The Reason You Should Be Adding Simple Syrup To Your Martini

One of the reasons people choose to drink a martini is for what's not in it. The martini is a tipple for purists in a sense — add a whisper of vermouth to some gin or vodka, and the drink's done. While the martini has innumerable variations, at its core, it's a crystal-clear, no-nonsense, spirit-forward standout from a crowded field of complicated cocktails. Sure, you can gussy one up with a twist of citrus or bleu cheese-stuffed olives, but one of the defining characteristics of a classic martini is that it's never, ever sweet.

But you know what they say about rules and their need to be broken. This is why accomplished NYC bartender Joaquín Simó believes that simple syrup belongs in your martini. Simó lays out his case for simple syrup to Punch, explaining that the syrup plays a textural role in cocktails that has more to do with the mouthfeel than sweetness. When you're looking to perfect a cocktail that isn't coming together, Simó says, "Sugar is not the enemy."

Simple syrup elevates cocktails by adding texture

Joaquín Simó reveals his chef-like approach to cocktails as he explains how he realized that simple syrup brings a drink into balance. He likens simple syrup to butter, explaining, "I'd taste a drink, and it was almost right, but the flavors weren't popping enough; there was a lack of fullness." Simó discovered that adding a bit of simple syrup is a game-changer for cocktails, even if you're not aiming for a sweet drink. Tasting a cocktail after adding as little as a half-teaspoon of simple syrup, Simó explained, "I realized that little bit of sugar was giving it backbone, giving it structure."

Simple syrup can be nuanced, as well. Syrup made with granulated white sugar is versatile and suited to a wide range of cocktails, and a syrup made with demerara or brown sugar adds depth to cocktails featuring brown or barrel-aged spirits like whiskey and rum.

Even the purist's martini benefits from a touch of simple syrup, according to Simó, as the syrup can soften the astringency and hard edges of a drink that's essentially pure liquor. Simple syrup can act as a secret weapon of sorts, an ingredient that you don't necessarily taste but one you'd miss if it weren't present.