Honey simple syrup

May 31, 2012 · 6 comments

Last week at the lake, where cocktail hour acceptably starts around noon, I watched with sadness as my husband and friends popped open local craft beers to drink with lunch. Or when the margarita pitcher passed me by during that pre-dinner guacamole hour, the salted rims of glasses sparkling jewel-like, causing a Pavlovian mouth-watering.

Uncorking that bottle of rosé to eat with my guac just wasn’t doing it for me.

When you are grain-and-sugar-free, you can’t drink beer. Or mixed drinks. The only alcohol that’s acceptable on the GAPS diet is dry wine, and that in limited amounts (*see note below).

In a move of desperation, I decided to make myself a wine cocktail. I had brought along some sparkling water, and cranberry concentrate, and realized I needed a sweetener. Sugar is out, and I’ve made the mistake before of pouring honey into a cold drink (it sticks like candy to the stirring spoon, refusing to dissolve in icy waters). So in a moment of desperate brilliance, I whipped up a simple syrup using honey instead of sugar. It worked beautifully — after refrigeration the syrup was cold and pourable, ready to add to my cocktail of choice.

If only my concoction hadn’t tasted like a back-woods version of Bartles & James.

But even though my cocktail was undrinkable (the rosé and guac started to taste a lot better together), I drove home with honey simple syrup in our cooler. And have since thought of more delightful uses for it (for the GAPS or sugar-free-inclined):

  • homemade “soda” (sparkling water, unsweetened cranberry or cherry concentrate, honey simple syrup)
  • iced coffee (cold decaf coffee, coconut or almond milk, honey simple syrup)
  • iced herbal tea (cold herbal tea, honey simple syrup)

And while cocktail hour won’t currently be improved (if the best things come to those who wait, I’ll be having the world’s most epic beer and margarita sometime later this year or early next), an afternoon pick-me-up of homemade cherry soda over ice is just the thing to get me through our own pre-dinner hour, at home, no guac, in a hot summer kitchen.

* newsflash: after the original posting, a concerned reader emailed to tell me that tequila, being grain-free, should be fine. A little research showed that it’s TRUE — small amounts of pure tequila are allowable on the GAPS diet! I see a margarita with tequila, fresh lime juice, and honey simple syrup in my future. Thanks, Belinda!


Recipe: Honey Simple Syrup


  • equal parts honey and water, any amount


  1. Combine honey and water in a saucepan. Warm over medium-low heat, stirring, until honey dissolves completely (no need to simmer).
  2. Remove from heat and let cool completely. Pour into a glass jar, and store in the refrigerator. Keeps for a really long time.

Copyright © Katy Carter, 2012.

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Barbara | Creative Culinary May 31, 2012 at 11:20 am

I know it won’t help to tell you I love using honey simple syrup with bourbon based cocktails…but maybe later this year? Good to see your dedication but cringing a bit at the Bartel’s and James thing though. I loved that stuff once…a LONG time ago. 🙂

katy May 31, 2012 at 11:30 am

oh, that’s sounds divine.

and I’ll admit to having a B&J or two myself, back in the day.
(funny how the ol’ “absence makes the heart grow fonder” thing works for bourbon, but decidedly *not* for B&J ; )

Dad June 4, 2012 at 8:52 am

Old folks down here have some really good recipes using old radiators and such to make um some home brew. They call it “white lightening”. Oh, wait, I think they use grain….. too bad.

Dad June 4, 2012 at 8:59 am

And your Grandfather was known to have bought a gallon or two!

katy June 4, 2012 at 8:29 pm

: )

meg June 7, 2012 at 2:11 am

Woop, have been thinking about making limoncello, but am rather adverse to adding a cup of caster sugar. My recipe calls for the rind of 8 lemons, 3 cups of vod, (1c caster sugar, 2 c water make into sugar syrup). If I substitute the caster sugar for honey syrup it should work….

Also if you were to use high quality vodka you should be able to drink that too….

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