willowbrook farm

historic yellow springs

Simple Summer Syrups



How many of you have encountered the words “simple syrup” while reading a recipe? How many of you have read the steps following the words “how to make a simple syrup” and passed over the recipe, for the directions looked too involved or too time consuming?

Look again… for simple syrups are just that…simple sugar reductions that combine flavor with just the right amount of sweetness that when used, make a perfect drink. With the abundance of herbs in the garden in the summer months, it is the perfect time to try one of those recipes that call for a “simple syrup.” In this post I am highlighting some of my favorites that seem to be crowd pleasers and really are worth the extra time that it takes to let these syrups cool. That is the key, that they need to cool before using, not that they are difficult to make. I like to make them the day before using and then I pop them in the fridge until ready to use. Choose one that grabs your tastebuds and try it at your next summer evening “sit on the porch” moment or gathering.

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Before getting started, if you have an herb or flower garden or pots full of both, peruse your sources and pick  both the herbs and flowers, along with the herbs that you will need for the recipe at hand. Fresh flowers are pertinent to lifting ones spirit! If you lack a green thumb, no worries, head to your local market where you can purchase a few blooms and the herbs that you need for the recipe.

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Take them into your kitchen and haphazardly arrange them in a vase or a Ball jar. You can pull what you need for the recipe and smile when you look at your pretty addition to your kitchen. I love to mix herbs and flowers together, for the herbs make the simple arrangement smell so good!

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Makes 8 drinks~Prep Time 15 mins ~ Total time 45 mins.,plus cooling

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup basil leaves split into 1/2 cup portions
  • 2 cups unsweetened cranberry juice
  • 1/4 fresh lime juice
  • 1 liter chilled club soda
  • 4 lime slices
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
  1. In a medium saucepan over medium high heat, bring the water and sugar to boil. Stir to dissolve.
  2. Add bail leaves, remove pan from heat and let steep for 20 minutes.
  3. Strain syrup and let cool for at least an hour.
  4. In a large pitcher, add lime juice. Add club soda, then the lime slices and cranberries along with the remaining 1/2 cup basil leaves.
  5. To serve, pour over ice, top each with a splash of club soda, and garnish with basil.

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We served these at one of Summer Theme Thursdays and the comment was made that they would be delightful with a splash of vodka as well…feel free!


This recipe makes a pitcher of 6 drinks. We served this martini recipe at one of our Mom’s and Martinis party and tripled the recipe.

Lemon Basil Syrup recipe

Syrup recipe makes 2 1/2 cups ~ you will not need that much to make unless you are making a lot of the martinis but you can refrigerate whatever you do not use and add to ice tea…yum! The syrup will last 5 days covered in the fridge.

  • 2 cups packed fresh basil sprigs (top 4 inches of the plant)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 -4 by 1 inch strips lemon zest
  1. Bring all ingredients to a boil in a saucepan. Stir to dissolve sugar.
  2. Take pan off of heat and let stand at room temp for about an hour.
  3. Transfer to airtight container and chill until cold, about an hour.
  4. Strain through a sieve or over cheesecloth and discard the solids. You will only be using the syrup that is left.

To make the drinks combine the following ingredients together in a pitcher until cold.

  • 1 cup lemon basil syrup
  • 3/4 cup vodka
  • 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup ice cubes

Strain into martini glasses and garnish with a fresh basil sprig (lemon basil is preferable) and a lemon zest strip if desired.

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Lemon Basil Martini


The Mojito

Mint Simple Syrup ~ makes enough for a large batch of drinks ~again refrigerate any extras to add to ice tea!

  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1 cup sugar (increase ratios of both if you want to make more)
  1. Bring both ingredients to a boil, stir until sugar is dissolved.
  2. Take off heat and let cool.
  3. Refrigerate simple syrup until ready to use.

To assemble each drink:

 Prepare each glass by placing approx. 5-8 mint leaves in the bottom of the glass and muddle with a fork to smash the mint and release the oils. Add ice to half full:

Add the following ingredients to each glass one at a time to make a single drink:

  1. 2 ounces light rum
  2. 1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
  3. 1 1/2 ounce mint simple syrup

Top each drink with a SPLASH of club soda and top with mint springs…or not. The mint in the bottom is enough to flavor the drink, the mint at the top is just a garnish. Since our mint has practically taken over the garden as mint does, we like to use as much as we can!

The final recipe that I am sharing is a Summer Sangria. Again you will be making a Simple Syrup called a Sweet and Sour Mix


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Drink recipe makes 7 cups so it is more than enough to serve in either a pitcher or a decorative beverage container ~ Prep time 10 minutes ~ Chill for at least 2 hours

  • 1 (750-milliliter) bottle Viognier or Sauvignon Blanc
  • 1/2 cup passion fruit, mango or citrus flavored rum or vodka
  • 2 kiwis, peeled and sliced
  • 1 mango, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 1/4 sweet and sour mix or simple syrup (recipe below)
  • cracked ice
  1. Combine first 6 ingredients in a large pitcher.
  2. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours.
  3. Add ice; serve immediately

Sweet and Sour Mix (makes 3 1/2 cups)

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup fresh lime juice
  1. Combine sugar and 1 cup water in a saucepan over medium high heat. Cook, stirring often, until sugar dissolves.
  2. Remove from heat. Stir in lemon and lime juices.
  3. Cover and chill.



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Please share your version or other recipes that you favor for we are always trying new ones!

Happy Summer refreshment!



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