If there is one thing in bars that annoys me it is cheap horrible Agave syrup. If you want to ruin my Tommy's Margarita just reach for that 70cl bottle of watery agave syrup. Many people over look the quality of there sweetening agents in cocktails and this I have never understood....
For example I'll use a Tommy's Margarita as it has 3 ingredients.
Tequila, Lime, Agave.
When crafting a fantastic cocktail you would never use a cheap mixo tequila or synthetic lime juice so why cheat out on the Agave or worse swap it for gomme.
Agave has a great flavor which works fantastically in cocktails. It mixes much better then Honey without the need to make Honey Syrup. It's all natural and much better for the body than Gomme or Simple Syrup.
So what is Agave?
This cactus looking plant is a part of the Lily family which is used to make tequila.
To produce organic agave nectar, juice is expressed from the core of the agave (the piña). The juice is then filtered to create agave nectar or syrup. The agave nectar has the natural solids removed through a fine filtration process.
I always choose a high quality organic Agave syrup, my favourtie Agave is AquaRiva® Organic Agave Syrup (No they aren't paying me unfortunately... :|). I used to use their 5lt catering pack in a bar I managed as we sold so much the little bottles weren't viable for us. I even had the pleasure of meeting Cleo Roco the owner AquaRiva Tequila and Agave once at a trade show in York.
AquaRiva spend 2 years sourcing the very best agave which is very high in minerals and nutrients. The Blue Weber agave plants are organically farmed in rich volcanic soil in Mexico to guarantee the highest quality and purity.
AquaRiva® Organic Agave Syrup is:
* It is a natural alternative to sugar.
* 100% Natural & Organic product. Certified organic in the USA, UK and Europe.
* Under a Doctor’s guidance suitable for diabetics
* High levels of fructose (75%), & minerals: Iron, Calcium, Potassium,Magnesium
* 25% sweeter than sugar means you use much less to sweeten food and drinks
* Approximately 30% fewer calories than sugar
* Neutral flavour so it will not alter the flavour of foods and drinks it is added to. Unlike maple syrup, honey and other natural sweeteners
* Long shelf life up to 24 months without refrigeration, Will not crystallize
* Widely used in cocktails, baking, chocolates, BBQ sauces, jams, soft drinks, icecream, savoury dishes, cereals, health foods, to sweeten tea, coffee & beverages
Simple syrup is just want it says on the tin an 1:1 (one to one) mix of Sugar and Water used in many cocktails bars around the world it's job is to sweeten drinks.
I've never understood the purpose of Simple Syrup, yes it sweetens drinks but it also added an unnecessary amount of water to your drink. For example if you're using 25ml of this in a drink you're only added 12.5ml of sugar and 12.5ml of water. You end up being in a cycle of trying to off set dilution and sweetness. You just can't win, the more you add the more your drink becomes watered down. Texture wise this just makes your drink thin. Wouldn't want watery Yogurt would you?
Rich simple syrup is my solution to this. Most cocktail bars that give a damn will being using this. A mix of 2:1 (Two to One) sugar to water. This end result is thinker than standard simple syrup. I would recommend using an old syrup bottle (MONIN) to pour with rather then a speed pourer. This balance is much better for cocktail, for example, if you are to use 15ml in your drink you are only added 10ml Sugar and 5ml water. This gives you the ability to control the sweetness much more effectively without destroying the texture. This is also a good replacement for Gomme Syrup (seen below).
Lastly we have Gum or Gomme syrup, commonly used instead of simple syrup. While some people refer to simple syrup as gum syrup they do so wrongly as gum syrup must contains an emulsifier known as gum arabic (sometimes using the French word gomme).
The advantage to using gomme syrup is that, it adds a silky texture and softens the alcohol's flavor. It also prevents the syrup from crystallizing.
Gum arabic can be inconsistent and expensive, I suggest experimenting with small batches to begin with.
An interesting side note, Jerry Thomas' recipe for "gum syrup" includes no gum arabic, but is in fact simple syrup (1:1).