August 9, 2022

Demerara Syrup, a Rich and Flavorful Sweetener for Your Cocktails

Demerara syrup is such an easy way to add a new layer to your homemade drinks with its subtle caramel notes.

pouring demerara syrup

Sometimes a cocktail needs just a little something extra and when using sweeteners demerara syrup can be a tasty way to add another hint of flavor.

Demerara Syrup is a regular 1:1 simple syrup (half water and half sugar) that uses demerara sugar in place of the usual white sugar.

The result is a simple syrup that contributes a layer of warm toasty sweetness that marries beautifully with the ingredients in your drinks.

Here's how to make it!

measuring demerara syrup

What is Demerara sugar?

Demerara is a less processed form of raw cane sugar with large flavorful light brown crystals. Instead of stripping away all of the molasses, like when making white sugar, demerara is left with a deliciously mellow toffee flavor.

In addition to adding flavor to cocktails it is also great sprinkled on baked goods for an extra crunch, or stirred in your morning coffee.

You can usually find demerara at large grocery stores in either the baking or natural foods section, or you can order it HERE on Amazon (affiliate).

Is demerara the same as brown sugar?

Demerara and brown sugar are not the same. Light and dark brown sugars are refined white sugar that have had specific amounts of molasses added back in making them more earthy and molasses forward than demerara. 

demerara and other sugars

Substitutes for Demerara syrup

Turbinado sugar is another less refined cane sugar with a soft toffee and caramel taste that will work perfectly as a substitute for Demerara when making your simple syrup. 

If you are substituting with Turbinado use the same 1:1 ratio listed in the recipe below. Turbinado's main difference from Demerara is the way it is made which results in slightly finer crystals, but the flavor is quite similar.

As a last option, you could make your syrup with light brown sugar or cane sugar, but neither will be quite the same.

demerara in a mason jar

How to use Demerara Syrup

You can use Demerara Syrup as a more flavorful substitute for any recipe that calls for simple syrup.

Since it has notes of toffee and caramel, Demerara Syrup tends to pair especially well with any barrel-aged spirits like whiskey, brandy, and aged rum. You could also try using Demerara Syrup in non-alcoholic drinks like iced coffee and tea, or maybe try it on some pancakes!

jungle bird with demerara

The Jungle Bird

Rum is distilled from sugar cane (and it's byproducts) so demerara is a natural fit in flavorful Tiki drinks

If you've never used Demerara in a cocktail try adding it to an Old Fashioned and compare it to one made with regular simple syrup.

preparing bottle for demerara syrup

Storage tips for simple syrup

Any type of simple syrup will be great in drinks for a few weeks if properly refrigerated using these guidelines.

  1. Airtight container: use a bottle with a screw cap or stopper and don't rely on cling wrap or aluminum foil.
  2. Super clean: wash your storage bottle thoroughly. You can even rinse with 100+ proof alcohol for bonus points.
  3. Add Everclear: add a small splash of high proof neutral alcohol like vodka or Everclear to extend the shelf life.

Be sure there is no left over soap residue as the syrup will pick up the flavors of the soap and nobody wants a Dawn flavored cocktail.

How long will my demerara syrup last?

If stored in the fridge in a clean airtight bottle with a splash of Everclear your syrup should be good to use in cocktails for 3-4 weeks.

measuring demerara sugar
measuring water

Making Demerara Syrup

Start by adding equal parts demerara sugar and water to a small saucepan. Then, place on the stove over medium-low heat and stir just until all the sugar crystals have dissolved.

Let the syrup cool to room temperature before pouring into your final storage bottle. Add a splash of Everclear if you'd like and store in the refrigerator. 

Rich Demerara Syrup

Rich simple syrups are made using a 2:1 sugar to water ratio instead of the usual 1:1 so you can add sweetness to a cocktail with slightly less dilution.

To make a rich demerara syrup follow the recipe below but double the amount of sugar. When making cocktails with this syrup use 2/3 the amount called for in the recipe

bottle of demerara syrup

Demerara Syrup Recipe

When you need a subtle layer of toffee and caramel flavor in a cocktail, using Demerara Syrup instead of the standard simple syrup works great. 


  • 150 g Demerara Sugar - 3/4 cup
  • 150 g Water - 3/4 cup
  • Splash Everclear or High Proof vodka - optional


  • Add the sugar and water to a small saucepan.
  • Dissolve the sugar over medium heat just until all of the crystals disappear.
  • Store in a glass jar in the fridge for up to a month.
  • Add a splash of strong neutral alcohol to extend the life of your syrup. (optional)


You can also use Turbinado sugar as a direct substitute for Demerara.
Total Time: 10 minutes
Course: Drinks
Tag me at @mydrinkinghobby when you make this!

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