A primer on sweeteners

The most universal element in a cocktail, alongside alcohol and water/ice, are sweeteners. They come in many forms

  • Granulated sugar
  • Syrups: simple, maple, honey
  • Fruit and jellies
  • Fortified wines (vermouth, sherry, port, etc.)
  • Liqueurs: alcohol that has been flavored and sweetened
  • Tonic water and flavored sodas

The primary role of sugar is not to sweeten a drink but to tame and balance the alcohol. People may prefer varying degrees of sweetness but it's important to understand that as you remove a sweetener from a drink, the alcohol's intensity will increase and eventually become unbalanced.

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