Skip to main content

Maple syrup is the tasty ingredient your fall cocktails have been missing

Tired of simple syrup? Try maple syrup as a fall-friendly sweetener while mixing up cocktails

A good cocktail tends to find a tidy balance of flavors. Thumb through just about any recipe book, and you’re likely to see a lot of simple syrup. But simple syrup is, well, simple, and not always cut out for a home mixologist like yourself.

Sure, it’s good to have some simple syrup on hand, especially a diluted version that’s roughly a 2:1 ratio of water to sugar. But as we enter fall and winter and search for deeper, richer, more complex flavors, why not try maple syrup? Cocktail artists have already shown the power of sweeteners like demerara sugar, muscovado sugar, and agave syrup. Now that we’re celebrating all things autumnal, it’s time to start mixing with maple syrup. Like a lesser-known liqueur, it can reshape a good drink for the better.

A jar of fresh maple syrup.
Québec Maple Syrup Producers

Before you start throwing maple syrup at vodka, we have a few suggestions. Think about your base spirit and how the flavors will meld with the birch-y syrup. You want to play off of the caramel, toffee, and nutty notes so look to spirits like whiskey (rye especially), aged rum, and aged tequila.

Another merit of using maple syrup is the added texture it can afford. Thicker than many sweeteners, it can create a luscious, velvety mouthfeel when mixed properly. And unless you’re making your own simple syrup or buying higher-end stuff, there’s a good chance maple syrup will be a bit healthier. Yes, it’s still sugar, but chances are good that it’s less processed (and therefore tastes better too).

Also keep in mind that maple syrup does great alongside citrus and the purest form of it is its best form. In other words, look at the label to make sure it is what it says it is (100% pure maple syrup). And know that sediment can settle at the bottom of the syrup container so you may either want to strain the last few pours out or dilute them a bit with some warm water.

Get started with the pair of recipes below but keep going from there. You’ll love what a little maple syrup can do to an Old Fashioned, Hot Toddy, Manhattan, and more.

Maple Whiskey Sour

A whiskey sour atop a table.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

You don’t need to do much to allow maple syrup to shine. Take this iconic three-ingredient cocktail, which becomes a bit earthier with maple. If you’re feeling like you want even more texture, add a single egg white and go without ice. And if you need a garnish, go with a dried citrus wheel or maybe even a cinnamon stick.


  • 3 parts bourbon (try Frey Ranch Rye)
  • 2 parts fresh lemon juice
  •  1 part maple syrup


  1. Combine all ingredients into a shaker and shake vigorously.
  2. Strain into a cocktail glass (with or without ice, dealer’s choice).

Maple Julep

A refreshing cold mint julep.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

This recipe from Death & Co. offers another great example of how maple syrup can alter a classic cocktail in the simplest and best of ways. There are few ingredients but you still have to prepare it right, so be sure to have some good crushed ice on hand and a proper metallic or well-insulated vessel to make it in.


  • 2 ounces rye (they suggest Old Overholt)
  • 1/4 ounce maple syrup
  • Mint bouquet for garnish


  1. Combine rye and syrup in julep tin and fill halfway with crushed ice.
  2. Stir with a teaspoon, churning the ice as you go, for about 10 seconds.
  3. Add more crushed ice to fill tin two-thirds full and stir until tin is completely frosted.
  4. Add more ice to form a cone above the rim.
  5. Garnish with mint bouquet in the center of ice and serve with a straw.

Editors' Recommendations

Mark Stock
Mark Stock is a writer from Portland, Oregon. He fell into wine during the Recession and has been fixated on the stuff since…
Here’s why you have to stop peeling your ginger
We've grown accustomed to peeling ginger. Here's why you should stop
Ginger on cutting board.

Cooking is a skill that many people learn from their family members, and with these hand-me-down skills usually come some old-fashioned ways of doing things. Like any skill, though, you know more as you go, so by the time you've refined your cooking skills, you've learned some of the old-fashioned techniques no longer apply.

For example, many old-school cooks will tell you that you need a full, large pot of water to boil noodles. This way-to0-much-water school of thought was the standard for decades, so that's just what you did -- cooking noodles meant waiting for that massive pot of water to boil. Come to find out that you don't really need all that water after all -- noodles cook just fine in about half the water, which means half the amount of time waiting for the water to boil.

Read more
The secret to tasty, crispy bacon is something you already have in your pantry
The secret to perfect bacon has been right under your nose this whole time
Bacon frying in pan

It's pretty universally agreed that bacon is delicious. There are very few dishes (if any?) that can't be improved by a few crispy, savory, meaty slices of this porky treat. Slip a few pieces into a sandwich, crumble them up and sprinkle over salad for a noticeable improvement. Dip the stuff in chocolate, for crying out loud. We'll take it any way we can get it. Even the grease it leaves behind is something of a magical ingredient in and of itself. There's no denying that bacon is wonderful. A true gift. But what if we told you that there's a secret to even tastier, crispier bacon? Impossible, you may say. And yet, it's true. And the secret weapon is something we guarantee you have in your cupboard at this very moment. Plain ol' fashioned all-purpose flour.

Why does flour make bacon crispy?
By cooking bacon that has been dredged in flour first, you're doing a few things to help improve both its flavor and texture. Firstly, the coating of flour will help dry the bacon and absorb excess moisture, which is one of the keys of properly browned meats. Flour also provides a protective coating, helping to keep the bacon from overcooking. Another added perk of flouring first is that the flour will weigh the bacon down so that it fries flat and won't curl up on you, which can be terribly annoying when you're trying to get that perfect breakfast-in-bed shot for Instagram.

Read more
Starbucks’ new fall menu has supposedly leaked (and one fan-favorite is missing)
Baked Apple Croissants and Pumpkin Cream Chai Tea Lattes? This fall is going to be delicious.
Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte

It's hard to believe, but it would appear the season of all things pumpkin spice is hurriedly setting in. The subtle hints are everywhere, from marked-down summer decor items clearing way on store shelves, making room for fake fall foliage and toothy plastic jack-o-lanterns, to the heaven-sent commercials advertising back-to-school items (all parents take one collective sigh of relief). Yes, fall is coming, ready or not, and if you're one of the millions who favor fall flavors the most, we have some exciting news. Starbucks' new fall menu has supposedly leaked, and we've got all the spicy details.

Supposedly given to him by a Starbucks employee, Instagram influencer Markie Devo has thrown caution to the wind, deciding to share with the world this year's highly anticipated fall menu from the coffee mega-giant. To be clear, Starbucks has not yet confirmed or denied the leaked menu's authenticity, but the news has fans stirring either way.

Read more