April 13, 2019

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's subtle caramel notes.

Demerara Syrup is just regular 1:1 simple syrup (half water and half sugar), but instead of using white sugar we use Demerara sugar.

The result is a simple syrup that contributes a layer of toasty sugar flavor to your drinks instead of only adding sweetness.

In some drinks having the flavors of Demerara marry with the other ingredients works perfectly.

Florida Crystals Demerara Sugar
Demerara Cane Sugar Crystals in hand

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 some of the delicious caramel/toffee flavor.

When made into a simple syrup, those warm caramel and toffee notes add a great layer of flavor to a finished cocktail.

If you need some Demerara you can order it HERE on Amazon (affiliate). Outside of making cocktails it is also great sprinkled on baked goods for an extra crunch, or stirred in coffee.


This is NOT the same as "brown sugar" which is white granulated sugar with molasses added back in.

What's a good substitute for Demerara sugar?

Turbinado sugar will work perfectly as a substitute for Demerara. It is another less refined cane sugar with the same light toffee and caramel flavors. The only main difference is the way it is made which results in slightly finer crystals.

If you opt for Turbinado sugar use the exact same recipe as below.

As a last resort you could use basic light brown sugar, but it won't be quite as good.

Demerara Simple Syrup in a little glass jar

How to use Demerara Syrup

You can use Demerara Syrup as a more flavorful substitute for any recipe that calls for simple syrup, but it will work better in some drinks than others.

Since it has notes of toffee and caramel, Demerara Syrup tends to pair especially well with any wood-aged spirits that often have those flavors too. Whiskey and brandy are prime candidates to pair with Demerara, but also try it in cocktails with rum. Since rum is distilled from sugar cane (and it's many byproducts) it will be a natural fit, that's why you see Tiki drinks that call for Demerara Syrup.

If you've never used Demerara in a cocktail before start by adding it to an Old Fashioned to see how it creates a deep rich flavor.

Rum, lime and sugar make the perfect daiquiri

Make a Daiquiri!

Use demerara syrup in combination with fresh lime juice and quality rum for a truly mouthwatering drink.

However, there are some cocktails you might not want Demerara in.

It's taste is by no means overpowering, but certain flavors don't work so nicely together. For example, If the drink is light and floral the addition of toasty sugar flavors might muddy things up too much.

Before you substitute it into a recipe (or use it to create one) just think "would a hint of caramel work together with the other flavors of this drink"? If you think it might give it a go, you won't actually know unless you try.

Demerara Syrup Recipe

When you need a layer of rich toffee and caramel flavor in a cocktail, using Demerara Syrup instead of the standard version can work great. 


  • 150 g Demerara Sugar
  • 150 g Water
  • 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 sugar dissolved.
  • 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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Pinterest Pinterest Demerara Syrup for Cocktails

You could also try using Demerara Syrup in non-alcoholic drinks like iced coffee and tea to add a subtle layer of flavor.

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    1. The higher sugar will help preserve it better but it wouldn’t hurt to add a splash. Try it and see how long it lasts, I’m sorry I don’t have a perfect answer for you!

  1. Ok, I’m a complete novice when it comes to making good drinks, but many of the ones that I like have Demerara syrup in them. So, my question, does this syrup need refrigeration after opening? Can’t wait to make my first drink (instead of having a bartender do it for me). 🙂

    1. Excited for you to start making awesome drinks too! And yes, after you have made the syrup store it in the fridge in a glass container for upwards of a month or so. Let us know how it goes!

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