The next time you are grappling with a first-world problem and are thinking that everything’s just too hard, have a thought for Raspberry Syrup. She might be sweet, colourful and dependable, but more often than not Raspberry Syrup is overlooked.
“Oh, far too sweet’, people say, often within her hearing, as they dismiss her and continue walking. “Not all that useful’ is another complaint that’s often thrown her way. Although there are a number of cocktails that would disagree with both these statements, it’s hard to get the people to give her a chance.
Sure, she’s can’t really be drunk straight like a spirit and she’s not glamorous like all those fancy liqueurs, but she will tell you herself, she’s a hard worker. Like most syrup,s she’s there to create a balance for the acids, the bitterness and in some situations even the booze themselves.
She may not get used as often as her parent Sugar Syrup or appear as fashionable as her cousin Grenadine, but she’s put in the hard yards and she’s a girl that has a bit of history to her.
Sit her down on a quiet night and she will tell you that during most of the late 1800s, she was the syrup to whom all the bartenders turned. She can tell you tales of inspiring legends like Jerry Thomas, who was so fond of her that he often referred to her in his 1862 book How to Mix Drinks.
In those days, when cocktails were establishing themselves and bartending was a relatively new profession, she was very much the go-to syrup and for decades no one even mentioned Grenadine.
If you’re lucky, she’ll go into the story about when she was first used in the Knickerbocker Cocktail in those rough and tumble days in early New York. She can easily describe how refreshed she felt after being shaken up with golden Rum, Dry Curaçao and Lime juice, although the details of who put her in the drink are a bit hazy these days.
She remembers a little more clearly her role of masking bad bathtub Gin when she was used for a Clover Club during Prohibition. Sure, she had worked with the Gin, Lemon Juice and Egg White before the days when the good booze went dry but it wasn’t until those secret, scandalous days that what she could bring to a drink was really appreciated.
Up until this time Raspberry Syrup has been the star of many cocktails and has helped make them famous. But sometime after Prohibition, everything started to change.
Looking back she blames it on the publication of books like the Savoy Cocktail Book which started to mention her and Grenadine in the same breath. For a while there, they talked about the two syrups as if they were interchangeable.
Slowly over the preceding decades, Raspberry Syrup found she wasn’t going out as much as she used to. She found more and more that if a drink needed a bright, fruity, sweet infusion, the cocktails were using Grenadine and not her.
It wasn’t until the cocktail revival and books such as Ted “Dr Cocktail” Haigh’s 2009 book Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails, that she was remembered for what she could really do. With the revival of some of the classic drinks in which she starred, came her own return to the bar.
Sure, sometimes life is hard, but like Raspberry Syrup, you’ll always bounce back.
Raspberry Syrup like almost all Simple Syrups is quite easy to make at home, Yet, if the idea of making your own frightens you or you’d just rather spend your time drinking rather than making then, Crawley’s Simple Syrup Co has an undoubtedly excellent Raspberry Syrup in their repertoire.