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Beyond Breakfast

Syrup takes control of the cocktail

We're in the midst of a syrup renaissance.

It was once literally a simple subject, being that most cocktails pivot on the use of simple syrup. Now the syrup world is complex and multifaceted.

We first caught wind of syrup's potential when San Francisco's Jennifer Colliau launched Smallhand Foods a few years back. A veteran bartender, she was the first to put a proper rendition of orgeat (almond-based syrup) and gomme syrup within reach of the home drinker.

This past summer, one of the most iconic cocktails in the arsenal, the G&T, was transformed, thanks to an explosion of newfound tonic syrups. We're still partial to the tropical stylings of Jack Rudy's version, but are also fond of the bottlings from Tomr, John's, Bittermen's, and now Liber and Co., which offers a spiced variation.

In New York, Morris Kitchen built a business on the perfect ginger syrup (click here to see a ginger cocktail recipe); since then, the company has expanded to include apple cider and preserved-lemon syrups, too.

The future is bright: Colliau has more projects in the works, and a new D.C.-based enterprise called Wilder Brothers, from bartenders Ari and Micah Wilder, is close to releasing its line of cocktail syrups. Look for a spicy agave-based option, a pineapple gomme, and a bitter-cherry syrup starting this spring.

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