Making simple syrup is one of the more boring tasks facing the professional or home bartender. It’s not drudgery, but neither is it glamorous: someone has to stand at the stove for a lengthy period, stirring a mixture of sugar and water over low heat. It’s true that you can buy infused simple syrups, but many of the more popular brands (such as Torani) contain both preservatives and food coloring.
Enter Purely Syrup, a line of USDA certified organic simple syrups. The project was founded by San Francisco mixologist David DeRinzy, Brooklyn-based entrepreneur Joshua Bloom, and Steven Craig, a marketing executive based in Telluride, Colorado. Still in its infancy, the company produces Classic (unflavored) syrup along with Ginger Root, Grapefruit, Vanilla Bean and Habanero.
“Because of the current mixology boom, there’s a huge interest in pre-Prohibition cocktails,” says DeRinzy, who was inspired by the current popularity of hand-crafted bitters. “Many of those drinks require simple syrup, and no one else is doing what we’re doing.”
DeRinzy is circumspect about sourcing his materials: his cane sugar comes from Brazil, his ginger root from Hawaii, his vanilla beans from Madagascar, and both the grapefruit and habanero peppers are grown in California. He’s quick to point out that his product sells for $12-13, the same price as non-organic simple syrup.
“You can make your own, of course,” he says, “but you can’t get the same purity of ingredients, even in a restaurant. There are culinary applications as well—these syrups are fantastic for the home cook preparing desserts, or just making an interesting glass of iced tea.”
Distribution is currently a work in progress, but restaurants or amateur bartenders may order the product directly at purelysyrup.com. DeRinzy foresees a day when the syrups will be found in every major bar and restaurant, as well as the kitchens of avid home bartenders. He hopes to expand the product line to eventually include soda, tonic, coffee and olive oil.
In the meantime, don’t slave over a hot stove preparing simple syrup: reserve your time and energy for risotto.
Mark Spivak is the author of Iconic Spirits: An Intoxicating History (Lyons Press, 2012) and Moonshine Nation (Lyons Press, 2014); for more information, go to amazon.com