We’ve been making an effort to reduce our intake of high fructose corn syrup, even though the jury may still be out on whether it’s worse for you than plain old cane sugar. Soft drinks on their own were eliminated from our diets years ago, but a few small cans of Coke and Ginger Ale, along with mixers like Rose’s and Master of Mixes are stocked in the pantry for cocktail mixers.
We use Rose’s Sweet & Sour Mix for a variety of cocktails including Sidecars, Long Island Iced Tea, and even Sangria. For this lemon mixer lab, we’ll try to create a home-made version with the same tart lemon flavor and sweetness level as Rose’s.
We start with ReaLemon which is 100% lemon juice from concentrate. For sweetness, we’re using a store-bought simple syrup, but it’s also easy to make your own by boiling equal parts of sugar and water until the sugar is completely dissolved.
First we mix equal parts of simple syrup and ReaLemon but the mixture is much sweeter and more syrupy than Rose’s. We add some water and then try adjusting the lemon a bit at a time, comparing it with the baseline Rose’s for each iteration.
Here is the final version, similar in taste to Rose’s but without the artificial aftertaste:
- 1 part simple syrup
- 2 parts ReaLemon
- 2 parts water
Next we make the same proportions with fresh lemons. I thought the fresh lemons would outperform the bottled ReaLemon by a mile but that’s not the case. The fresh lemons are slightly better but the convenient bottle of ReaLemon holds its own.
Although we tested the proportions of lemon, simple syrup and water to make the result closest in taste to Rose’s, we leave out the water when making cocktails. Most of our cocktails will pick up a little water by being shaken or stirred over ice anyhow. Depending on the cocktail, the ratio of simple syrup to lemon juice falls somewhere between 1:1 and 1:2. The proportions may vary not only for different cocktail recipes, but also the brands of liquor you use in them. We’ve recently started making our Sidecars with Remy Martin instead of Hennessey and are still re-working the recipe.