Summer syrup series: Raspberry syrup and the Knickerbocker

Before there was grenadine, there was raspberry syrup.

Okay, maybe that’s not literally true, but if you read early cocktail books, like Jerry Thomas’ Bartender’s Guide, you’ll see plenty of references to raspberry syrup… and none to grenadine. It’s an indispensable ingredient in the East India Cocktail and Clover Club, and makes a pretty fine substitute for grenadine in many other recipes, too.

Based on the state of my local farmers’ market last weekend, now is the perfect time to make raspberry syrup. The raspberries this year have been small (and expensive!), but intensely flavourful. Early methods for raspberry syrup involve letting the raspberries ferment for three days before straining, sweetening and cooking, but with modern refrigeration, there’s a much simpler approach.

How to make raspberry syrup

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 pint raspberries, the more flavourful, the better

Combine sugar and water in a small pot and heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. Allow to cool completely.

Place the berries in a non-reactive bowl and add enough of the cooled syrup to cover. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and allow to stand overnight.

The next day, strain the berries out, and pour the syrup into a clean bottle. Store in the fridge.

How to make a Knickerbocker

  • 2 oz. light-bodied amber rum (ideally Cruzan Aged Dark rum, or substitute Havana Club 7)
  • 3/4 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. raspberry syrup
  • 1/2 oz. Grand Marnier

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake for 15 seconds, then strain into a rocks glass filled with more ice. Garnish with additional raspberries, or an orange wheel and a cherry, or whatever fruits you have on hand.

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3 Responses to “Summer syrup series: Raspberry syrup and the Knickerbocker”

  1. I make raspberry syrup too, but my method involves fermenting the crushed berries, then boiling the strained liquid with sugar and finally bottling the resulting syrup. It’s intended for a longer, non-refrigerated shelf life. Usually I just mix it with sparkling water, so happy to discover a recipe for a drink that uses raspberry syrup!

  2. Kim, that sounds exactly like the older method I link to above. Eventually I will get around to trying it out.
    Be sure to try out the Clover Club and East India, too!

  3. I obviously only skimmed your post — apologies! My method and proportions are a little different than the ones in the recipe you link to, but the result is likely the same.