What's your best simple syrup recipe with artificial sweetners?
March 5, 2013 3:08 PM   Subscribe

I'm on a low carbohydrate diet and I love cocktails, so I'm trying to figure out the best was to make a simple syrup replacement that tastes decent and has an ok mouth feel. Have you got a go to recipe that doesn't crystallize or have some funky aftertaste?

I'm more than willing to mix up a custom sweetner mix. I've been reading about stevia, xylitol, and many others for the last few days, but most of the information seems to be focused at people who want to use them in baking or in food. I really want a good mixer. Can the imbibers of metafilter help me out?
posted by bswinburn to Food & Drink (14 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I am a diabetic who loves cocktails. Now, I am sure you are aware of how the body digests alcohol and of the sugar content in common ingredients like triple sec. That said, I make a simple syrup with xylitol. You will never get a pure flavor in a super sweet drink. The distinct flavor of the sweetener will poke its head in. But a little sweetness added and you wouldn't notice. Xylitol has the least distinct flavor of all the alternative sweeteners I have tried so you can enjoy the sweet, sweet flavor of booze.

Stevia, which I love, tastes like stevia. And unless you know a cocktail that needs the unmistakable flavor of stevia you will be disappinted with it.
posted by munchingzombie at 3:19 PM on March 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

I don't know about simple syrup in particular, but xylitol tastes, by far, the most like sugar, and mostly behaves like sugar (1 tsp sugar = 1 tsp xylitol in recipes).
posted by rabbitrabbit at 3:20 PM on March 5, 2013

My wife has looked into this, too, and our experiments fell somewhere between "that doesn't taste right" and "should we call HazMat, or Poison Control?" Something about alcohol greatly amplifies the off flavors of sugar substitutes.

It's not what you want to hear, but stick to dry cocktails, or wine.

If you must sweeten, try a liqueur instead of a syrup or a fruit juice. On the other hand, there are more carbs in a light beer than an old fashioned, so maybe a little simple syrup isn't so bad. Stay away from the fruity drinks, though.
posted by sportbucket at 3:21 PM on March 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

How low do you need to go (or keep) your carb intake? Because a rinse of simple syrup in a cocktail glass can't be many carbs, and will definitely taste and feel better than one made with not-sugar. I say this as someone who watches carbs - when I was tracking religiously, I found that any fruit juice that went into a cocktail was waaay higher in carbs than a tsp or two of simple syrup.
posted by rtha at 3:36 PM on March 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Which sweeteners taste like what to whom is really an individual taste buds thing (stevia tastes funny to some people, neutral to others, probably for similar reasons to the Great Cilantro Divide) but I agree the xylitol is probably the most universally neutral.

Some people have had good luck with liquid Splenda, but that tastes like soap to me. You might try it.

Is agave OK for you? Some people find it spikes their blood sugar, others do not; if it's OK for you, it can be good in cocktails with citrusy bases.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:39 PM on March 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: All of the various sugar alcohols (erithrytol, xylitol, maltitol, etc) have varying carb counts and effects on blood sugar. Probably not worth it to include them when low carbing.

You could use a Splenda-based flavored Torani or Davinci syrup. Actually... Davinci makes a sugar-free simple syrup. Oh snap, so does Torani.
posted by elsietheeel at 3:44 PM on March 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

I use Slim Bob's and Skinny Chick's mixers. They're so citric-acidy that you can't taste the sweetener and a tiny splish goes a long way. I use the Lemon Drop to make Sodastream soda.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:48 PM on March 5, 2013

I use the Torani simple syrups (SF) in my coffees and have used the fruity ones in cocktails. Not too shabby. There are tons of sugar free flavors.
posted by pyjammy at 6:34 PM on March 5, 2013

Best answer: Seconding DaVinci no-sugar-added syrups. We buy them all the time just because we like them and the amaretto and butter rum taste amazingly like the real thing!
posted by Lynsey at 9:23 PM on March 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Alcohol pairs very well with a low-carb diet. The Drinking Man's Diet predates Atkins by about 8 years. You just have to stay away from juice and sugar.

Not that you asked, but here's what I drink since I decided to avoid sugar/carbs:

- Whiskey, brandy, rum
Mostly neat, sometimes with ice, sometimes with bitters, sometimes with ice AND bitters. You can also add citrus juice (lime goes well with rum, lemon goes well with whiskey and brandy), which adds a tiny amount of sugar. A mostly non-alcoholic option is just bitters and soda. This is something I discovered back when I was going to a lot of shows and felt the need to drink something but didn't want to pay $6 for a beer. It's feels like you're drinking a cocktail, it's refreshing, and you can have 6 of them and legally drive home.

- Wine (not carb-free, but goddammit)
I've actually taken to watering mine down at home, and drinking it like I would a beer (okay, several beers). Does that make me an alcoholic? Very probably. But my insulin sensitivity is very reasonable, so I feel I'm winning the battle.
posted by sportbucket at 9:40 PM on March 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm a fan of the Torani syrups in my coffee but not as as a base for a cocktail-- they don't have much of a flavor besides "sweet." MIO, on the other hand, does. For example I love rum and Peach Ice Tea MIO-- it tastes like a ice tea liqueur without the sugar. I also like Blueberry or Orange-tangerine MIO with Vodka. Note that several other brands besides MIO have hit the market: Target has a nice Cherry-limeade and Crystal Lite has a new line of liquids (I can recommend the mango-peach.)

I'm on a very low carb diet and I usually have a drink in the evening. Sometimes Rum and MIO, sometimes Vodka and Mio, sometimes whiskey neat. I've also had whiskey with a dash of cherry and bitters as a sort of Old Fashioned but don't tell anyone because that is a shocking waste of good whiskey.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:14 AM on March 6, 2013

Best answer: Nthing DaVinci syrups. They are made with Splenda, but it's the liquid version, so there's no funky aftertaste like you get from the packets. (and no carbs which are actually present in the powder version of Splenda)
posted by getawaysticks at 6:15 AM on March 6, 2013

Response by poster: Ok, I've tried truvia and it's weird aftertaste is not for me.

I've got an sample of the liquid splenda ordered, so I have high hopes!
posted by bswinburn at 9:54 PM on March 14, 2013

Response by poster: The liquid sucralose came in and I made a simple syrup with it. This should be pretty identical to the DaVinchi syrups because the sweetner in DaVinchi syrups is also sucralose. And, well, it's pretty much perfect.

I tasted a bit of the syrup by itself and couldn't detect any aftertaste I was absolutely sure was there. As it's 0 calorie and 0 carb I think this will be pretty much perfect for me and don't see much of a point in continuing experimenting. Maybe for baking, but that's beyond the remit of this Askme.

Anyone wishing to replicate what I did can get the same "free sample" (one penny, plus $2.95 s&h) here and use one cup of water with 36 drops of the Ez-Sweet. I think I'd go for less drops in the future, as this seems much more of a rock candy syrup (except for the lack of mouth feel) than a simple syrup.

Anyway, thanks for your help all! And I'm going to best answer all the DaVinci ones because the recommendations are essentially the same.
posted by bswinburn at 7:05 PM on March 15, 2013

« Older Help me be an awesome auntie and buy good clothes...   |   Playing my part in making life for fellow LGBT... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.