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The Secret to a Great Fall Old Fashioned:  Homemade Fig Syrup 

5 from 2 votes

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Homemade Fig Syrup in a jar with dried and fresh figs on a tray
Homemade Fig Syrup

Fresh figs elude me in Kentucky – the best I can source is Trader Joe’s fresh figs for a two-week period in late August and early September so putting together a homemade fig syrup for fall cocktails from dried figs is perfect for my location. Because I’m using dried figs instead of fresh figs, I cook the syrup a bit longer than I would otherwise, but the fig-steeped syrup is perfect for use in cocktails, from Old Fashioneds to Whiskey Sours to fall Mojitos and Highballs. 

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How to Use Figs in Cocktails

Because figs are so sweet, they are a perfect substitution in cocktails calling for a sweet or fruity element. Fresh figs add a silky mouthfeel to sours and cocktails that is hard to describe, but when you’ve had a cocktail made with fresh figs it often feels as if it has egg white or a foaming agent in it, even when it doesn’t. 

I love to use figs with cocktails that have a citrus element. They pair wonderfully with both orange and lemon, and fresh figs make beautiful garnishes when they are in season. In addition, whiskey often pairs delightfully well with fig flavors as it’s a fairly common flavor and aroma found in whiskies. 

Muddled cocktails, like a smash or a julep will make lovely fall variations with fresh figs. When fresh figs aren’t in season, fig jam stands in for the sweet element in cocktails as varied as a sour, highball, margarita or daiquiri. Fig jam and preserves don’t have the same lovely pink hue as fresh figs but they make delicious cocktails no matter their color. 

How to Make Fig Simple Syrup for Cocktails

Homemade Fig Syrup in a jar with dried and fresh figs on a tray
Homemade Fig Syrup

Because we’re using dried figs instead of fresh figs to make this homemade fig syrup, we’ll be simmering the dried fruit a little longer than we would otherwise to make sure to get the most of the fig flavor from the fruit. In this case, I used 1.5 cups sliced dried figs, 1 cup of water and ¾ c raw sugar. I also added in a dash of vanilla and just a teaspoon of lemon juice.

To make the fig simple syrup, I added the ingredients to a small saucepan and let it simmer for 15 minutes on low. I did let the syrup cool for about an hour to steep in the figs before I strained it and it was worth it to pull that extra flavor out of the dried fruit. 

Tips and Tricks to Make a Great Simple Syrup

Homemade Fig Syrup in a jar with dried and fresh figs on a tray
Homemade Fig Syrup

For more information on simple syrups in general, head to my article All About Simple Syrups. Because we’re using dried figs, the recipe doesn’t make a lot of simple syrup – I had just over ½ cup of syrup. But, if you add a splash of vodka to it it will keep for weeks in the refrigerator.

I taste test throughout any syrup and this fig is no exception. Because it can be made with any kind of dried fig, taste while it’s simmering and take it off the heat once it starts to develop the dried figgy richness you’re looking for.

Try it in this Fig Old Fashioned

Fig Old Fashioned on a tray with fresh figs and jigger, garnished with fresh fig
Fig Old Fashioned

Dried fig notes are often found in great bourbons. So using this fig syrup in an Old Fashioned with a great whiskey with lots of dried fruit notes is perfection. It was the first cocktail I tested with this fig syrup, It also batches easily for parties and is perfect for fall and winter parties.

But since I prefer it with dried figs, it’s something easy to make any time of year!

Should I Use Fresh Or Dried Figs for this Fig Syrup?

I prefer the depth of flavor from a simple syrup made with dried figs, but it makes far less syrup than a similar simple syrup made with fresh figs. But, if you want to make fresh fig syrup, use this recipe:

  • 2 cups chopped fresh figs
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup raw sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

Add all ingredients to a sauce pan and simmer on low for 30 min or until the figs completely break down and start turning to mush. Let cool, strain into a clean glass jar and store in the fridge.

Flavor Difference between Fresh Fig Syrup and Dried Fig Syrup

Both fig syrups tasted of fig, but the difference is in the intensity of the figgy-ness (if that’s a word). The dried fig syrup is much darker and richer. It has the flavor of dried figs and lots of the vanilla comes through in flavor. The fresh fig syrup is lighter, both in color and flavor. It’s a more delicate fig taste – and it’s a creamier syrup in terms of mouthfeel. I want to use the fresh fig syrup in something like a sour, or a drink that will be served neat. I want to use the dried fig syrup in drinks served over ice.

The difference in taste does follow through from the taste difference between a fresh fig and a dried fig.

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Homemade Fig Syrup in a jar with dried and fresh figs on a tray

Homemade Fig Syrup for Cocktails

Heather Wibbels
Add depth and decadence to your fall and winter cocktails with this fig simple syrup made with dried figs. Because it’s made of dried figs, we’ll cook it a little longer than usual to make sure to get a strong and vibrant fig flavor infused in the syrup. Using raw or brown sugar is best with this recipe to pair with the rich flavor from the figs.
5 from 2 votes
Course Drinks
Cuisine whiskey cocktail

Ingredients
  

  • 1.5 c sliced dried figs
  • 1 c water
  • ¾ c raw sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

Instructions
 

  • Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat until simmering. Reduce heat to low so that the syrup is barely simmering and stir occasionally for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the mixture steep and cool. Strain, reserve the candied figs for appetizers or toppings on ice cream or baked goods. Store the fig simple syrup in the fridge for 3-4 weeks.

Notes

To make the syrup with fresh figs:
  • 2 cups chopped fresh figs
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup raw sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
Add all ingredients to a sauce pan and simmer on low for 30 min or until the figs completely break down and start turning to mush. Let cool, strain into a clean glass jar and store in the fridge.
Keyword fall simple syrup, fig, how to, simple syrup
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
By on September 10th, 2021

About Heather Wibbels

Heather Wibbels is a whiskey enthusiast (Executive Bourbon Steward, no less) with a passion for cocktails. She loves researching and designing cocktails, drinking cocktails, and teaching cocktails. Mostly whiskey cocktails, given her Kentucky location

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