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Two Easy Ways to Perfect Flavored Maple Syrup at Home

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Creating flavored maple syrups at home is a snap with one of these two methods for infusing maple syrups for cocktails and cooking. Infusing homemade simple syrup is fast, but if you use a premade syrup, like barrel-aged bourbon maple syrup, you can take advantage of those maple and barrel flavors as the base for your flavored maple syrups. 

The best part? I’ve got two easy ways for you to explore, a stove method that takes about 10 minutes of hands-on time, and the refrigerator method – slower, but easy. It consists of putting the infusing agent, like coffee beans, in a container with syrup and letting it infuse in the refrigerator for a few days.

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All About Maple Syrup

Maple syrup is made from the sap of sugar maple trees harvested in early spring in North America, usually in the northern US and Canada. Once harvested from the trees, the sap is boiled down or concentrated to make the sap sweeter and the flavor more concentrated.

For more information on maple syrup in general, how it’s made and the history of it, head to the Vermont Maple Sugar Maker’s Association.

Because we’re focusing on creating infused syrups for cocktails. I suggest using a barrel-aged pure maple syrup.

Grades of Maple Syrup

pouring maple syrup into a jar filled with spices for flavored maple syrup

In the US and in Canada there are multiple grades of maple syrup. They range from very light and more delicately flavored syrups to much darker and more vibrant maple syrups. While the descriptions of the grades generally refer to the color of the grade, producers actually grade the syrup by taste, not by appearance.

In the US, there are 4 categories of maple syrup – Golden, Amber, Dark, and Extra Dark. All four categories are maple syrup, but the ones that are darker have a stronger maple taste. Taste test the syrups to match the depth of flavor of the maple syrup to the depth of flavor of the cocktail. For a lighter cocktail, golden may be used, but many people prefer the middle grades of maple for both cooking and cocktails.

In Canada, maple syrup is graded a bit differently. There are 3 grades, #1 which includes extra light, light, and medium, #2 which includes amber, and #3, which is dark. All three taste like maple syrup, but the darker syrups have a more potent and vibrant taste. If you’re using maple for cocktails, grades 2 and 3 are likely best since you’ll use the maple syrup in small ¼ to 1 oz quantities.  

When making flavored maple syrups, choose the base syrup wisely. If you’re working with bold flavors, a darker, more vibrant maple syrup grade is a better choice.

Ideas for Infused or Flavored Maple Syrups

looking down into a jar filled with spices for infusing maple syrup

The beauty of maple syrup is the simplicity of adding flavors and aromas to it through food and spice elements used in the syrup infusion. Here are just a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing for the creation of your own flavored maple syrups:

  • Cinnamon and Vanilla – this glorious combination should be first on your list. It’s not only delicious on breakfast foods, but it’s also amazing in Whiskey Sours, Old Fashioneds, Toddies, Daquiries, Coffee cocktails, Mojitos, John Collins, and more. (1 vanilla bean, 3 sticks of cinnamon to 1.5 cups of whiskey).
  • Coffee – adding whole, dark roast beans whiskey provides a bitter, aggressive bite to the syrup. Perfect for coffee lovers. It’s delicious added to Old Fashioneds, white or black Russian cocktails, tropical cocktails (trust me) and rum cocktails. (2 tablespoons per cup)
  • Cacao Nibs – when cacao nibs are added into an infusion, the syrup explodes with the earthy, bitter flavor of raw chocolate paired with the sweet depth of the maple syrup. I love this in Whiskey Sours, Mint Juleps, Irish Coffee and Hot Toddies, in addition to pancakes, waffles and french toast. (2 tablespoons per cup)
  • Ginger – ginger adds heat and spice to maple syrup. You can use ginger juice, but I prefer adding a thumb of ginger peeled and chopped to infuse with one cup of syrup. (1 thumb peeled, chopped ginger to 1.5 cups of maple syrup)
  • Curry powder – heat always works well with sweet. Adding curry powder or whole spices to a cocktail is a delicious surprise in maple cocktails. (1 tsp to 1 cup maple syrup, depending on the spiciness of the curry powder)
  • Hot peppers – in the same vein as curry powder, the combination of heat and sweet together is entertaining to the tongue. (1 dried chili pepper to 1 cup maple syrup)
  • Cardamom, allspice, and clove – all three of these are delicious infusions on their own (especially the cardamom), but all three together can taste like a delicious holiday cookie. (2 tsp dried whole cardamom, 1 tsp allspice berries, ½ tsp whole clove to 1 cup syrup)
  • Bacon – Many people love the flavor combination of maple syrup, coffee, and bacon for breakfast, and infusing syrup with bacon can be a think of beauty. This is a revelation in an Old Fashioned, or added in very tiny quantities to any whiskey cocktail, like a Manhattan or Sazerac. (2 cooked strips of bacon broken up and infused into 1 cup maple syrup)
  • Bourbon (and butter) – adding just a few tablespoons of bourbon to your maple syrup can transform its complexity. And melting a pat of butter or two into the maple syrup turns it into a delicious treat in its own right. Once you make this you might never go back to plain maple syrup (2 tablespoons bourbon, 1 tablespoon butter, 1.5 cups maple syrup)

The sky is the limit with infusions of maple syrup. Feel free to add small amounts of spirit or any whole spice to the syrup for infusion. Adding amari or italian bitters can be a revelation. You can thank me later.

Avoid using delicate spices like basil in the infusion. If left for a few days, they can easily break down in the syrup and cause problems with spoiling later on.

How to Make Flavored Maple Syrup in the Refrigerator 

looking down into a mason jar filled with spices and syrup for infused maple syrup

The easiest way to make flavored maple syrup infusions is to add whole spices to maple syrup and store it in the fridge for a few days while the syrup infuses. Every 24 hours take a small spoon and test the syrup. When the flavor and aroma is vibrant, strain out the solids and store the syrup in a clean glass jar.

This method can be done over long periods of time – sometimes as long as a week or two for more subtle infusions. But for bold spices like cinnamon, coffee, or peppers, 2-4 days may be all the time you need to create a great infusion.

For a syrup that uses a combination of subtle and bold flavors for infusing into the syrup, use a cheesecloth to contain the more bold spices and pull them out of the syrup before those flavors override the more subtle infusion elements. 

Clove, cinnamon, ginger, and pepper infusions will need to be watched closely to make sure they don’t overwhelm the other flavors. 

How to Make Flavored Maple Syrup on the Stove

If you don’t have three to seven days, there’s a faster method to infused,  flavored maple syrups. Instead of leaving jars to infuse in the refrigerator, we’ll heat the syrup on the stove until it’s steaming but not quite boiling.

Once steaming, add flavor elements to the infusion and keep the pan steaming for 10-15 minutes. After that time, turn off the heat and let the syrup cool to room temperature before straining and storing in the refrigerator.

How to Store Flavored Maple Syrup

When making flavored maple syrup at home it’s critical to store them in the fridge once they are infused. Maple syrup in general should be stored in the refrigerator once it’s opened. And infused syrups are no different.

I find the syrups keep longer if they are well-strained and kept in clean glass jars in the refrigerator. Glass jars also means you can inspect the surface for any mold spots easily. Just like any syrup, over time, bacteria or mold can grow in the syrups. I find my infused syrups keep 2 to 3 months in the fridge, but I check them every time I open them.

They’re usually so tasty, however, they last no longer than a month, especially if I’m also using them on my breakfast. 

Tips and Tricks to Infusing Maple Syrup

looking down into a mason jar filled with spices for infusing maple syrup

Any infusion depends on the freshness of the herbs, spices, or food elements to determine the full volume and complexity of the flavors.  

Cutting or breaking the infusing elements into small pieces increases surface area, quickens the infusion time, and increases infusion intensity. 

If you’re infusing with bacon, or any fatty food item like butter, you will need to heat up the syrup slightly and shake it well before using it again. When left in a fridge the fat congeals and floats in the syrup or spirit. 

Don’t be afraid to combine like flavors together for a single infusion. Combinations of spice or savory and herbal elements can be intriguing in a cocktail.

As an example I’m including a recipe for cinnamon vanilla maple syrup and also coffee-infused simple syrup, two I make all the time.

Other Cocktails You Might Enjoy

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Recommended Bar Tools

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You probably already have these, but you may need them, too:

Coffee Flavored Maple Syrup

Eric Johnson
Whether you make this in the refrigerator or on the stove, this coffee-infused maple syrup goes well with breakfast foods or cocktails any time of the day.
No ratings yet
Cook Time 10 mins
steep time 30 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Servings 16

Ingredients
  

  • 2 tablespoons dark roast coffee beans
  • 1 cup maple syrup

Instructions
 

  • Heated (see notes for refrigerator method). Add maple syrup and coffee beans to a small pan on the stove and heat until steaming.
  • Keep the syrup on the heat for 10 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat and let the syrup cool to room temperature.
  • Strain the syrup and store it in the refrigerator for 2-3 months.

Notes

Notes: Refrigerator Method
  1. Add syrup and coffee beans to a small glass jar.
  2. Store in the refrigerator.
  3. Every 24 hours taste test the infusion.
  4. When the infusion reaches a flavor level you love (usually 3 days for me) strain it and store it in the refrigerator.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Cinnamon Vanilla Maple Syrup

Eric Johnson
Whether you make this in the refrigerator or on the stove, this homemade cinnamon and vanilla flavored maple syrup goes well with breakfast foods or cocktails any time of the day.
No ratings yet
Cook Time 10 mins
Steep Time 30 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Course Breakfast
Cuisine cocktail
Servings 18

Ingredients
  

  • 1 vanilla bean, split
  • 3 cracked cinnamon sticks
  • 1.5 cups maple syrup

Instructions
 

  • Heated (see notes for refrigerator method). Split the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds. Add maple syrup, vanilla bead, seeds, and cinnamon sticks to a small pan on the stove and heat until steaming.
  • Keep the syrup on the heat for 10 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat and let the syrup cool to room temperature.
  • Strain the syrup and store it in the refrigerator for 2-3 months. If you’d like, you can leave the vanilla bean in the jar with the infused maple syrup and the vanilla flavor will continue to develop. If you don’t, add the used vanilla bean to your vanilla extract bottle.

Notes

Notes: Refrigerator Method
  1. Add syrup, cinnamon sticks, vanilla beans, and seeds to a small glass jar.
  2. Store in the refrigerator.
  3. Every 24 hours taste test the infusion.
  4. When the infusion reaches a flavor level you love (usually 3 days for me) strain it and store it in the refrigerator.
Keyword cinnamon, maple syrup, vanilla
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
By on January 29th, 2022

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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