Why sugarcane juice is better than simple syrup or processed sugar for cocktails
When you order your favorite cocktail, what ingredients come to mind? Your typical Whiskey Sour has whiskey, lemon juice, simple syrup, and if you’re feeling crazy, a dash of egg white. If you’re a Mai Tai fan, you have the perfect ratio of rum, Curaçao liqueur, simple syrup, and lime juice. Finally, if a Mojito is more your style, you’ll be seeking a nice combination of white rum, simple syrup, lime juice, soda water, and mint.
Did you notice the one ingredient that shows up in every one of these cocktails? Simple syrup. Let’s explore why these two words should set off the alarms in your head.
What is Simple Syrup?
Simple syrup is nothing more than a one-to-one ratio of sugar and water vigorously shaken together until the sugar has completely dissolved. If the sugar hasn’t completely dissolved, you’ll end up with a nice gritty layer of sediment at the bottom of your glass. Fun.
Simple syrup gets a little more complex if you want a sweeter blend. Rich simple syrup doubles the sugar while keeping the same amount of water. Rather than the traditional one-to-one ratio, rich simple syrup utilizes a two-to-one ratio of sugar to water.
If you want to go crazier still, you can ditch the white sugar for a raw, brown sugar such as turbinado, muscovado, or demerara. “Raw” can often be a misnomer due to the production process of most sugars you find in your local grocery store.
Because white sugar has the highest demand, it’s priority number one at the processing plant. To save time and money, most plants process all of their raw sugar into white sugar first, stripping away the molasses. Then, to create their brown sugar product, they simply add the molasses back into a portion of the white sugar. Unfortunately, this process ruins the “rawness” of the brown sugar.
Why Should I Avoid Using Simple Syrup in My Cocktails?
White sugar is also known as “refined sugar.” Refined sugar is created by processing sugarcane or sugar beets—removing every nutritional benefit from the plants and focusing solely on the sucrose.
By stripping away the natural nutrients, white sugar becomes an entirely unnatural sweetener. When consumed, your body breaks down the refined sugar rapidly, causing an unnatural and rapid increase in insulin and blood sugar levels. This rapid digestion doesn’t allow your stomach to communicate to your brain that you are getting full.
This is a dangerous lack of communication when talking about alcohol consumption. Without proper signals telling your brain how many drinks you’ve had, you find yourself exceeding capacity and waking up the next morning with a nightmare hangover. At least now you have an excuse for all those Sunday blues.
You might be thinking: “Ok, so now what? Do I have to swear off all of my favorite cocktails, put my collar on, and ask for a glass of milk?” That’s one option, but we think we have a better one.
Sugarcane Juice is the Game Changer You’ve Been Looking For
The original Cuban Mojito was never made with simple syrup. Thanks to the tropical climate, the locals had abundant access to raw sugarcane. By pressing the sugarcane, they were able to extract its natural juice. Sugarcane juice on its own is a wonderful beverage, but adding it to your favorite cocktail brings it to a whole new level.
When you have a cocktail with all-natural sugarcane juice, you’ll find yourself slowing down to experience one of Mother Earth’s purest flavors. Substituting simple syrup with sugarcane juice will transport you to the ancient sugarcane fields of Southeast Asia where “organic” was simply the natural way of life.
While white sugar provides zero nutritional benefit, sugarcane juice is like injecting preventative hangover medicine into your cocktail. With its natural mix of iron, magnesium, calcium and other electrolytes, sugarcane juice is a natural rehydration mixture.
To make this fact sink in a bit more, alcohol has a sneaky way of interfering with your body’s hydration. Typically, if you drink 100mL of water, you’ll find yourself in the bathroom passing that water a few hours later. 100mL in, slightly less than 100mL out.
Alcohol, depending on your drink, is normally 90-95% water. Therefore, your 300mL cocktail is about 270mL of water. However, that 270mL of water magically turns into 430mL when you head to the bathroom.
Ok, it’s not actually magic. Have you heard of the pituitary gland? If you or someone you know was that awkwardly tall eighth grader who had trouble getting his new giraffe legs under control, you can thank the pituitary gland—the producer of growth hormones. But, it does so much more.
Your pituitary gland is divided into two sections—the anterior lobe and the posterior lobe. The growth spurts we experience are thanks to the hormone production in the anterior lobe. The posterior lobe is where the magic happens when it comes to water regulation.
One of the hormones released the posterior lobe is called an anti-diuretic hormone (ADH). When you hear diuretic, think bathroom time. When you drink alcohol, you become more and more dehydrated. Your body has less water, but still has the same amount of salt.
Your body is always monitoring this water to salt ratio and when they sense dehydration, they send a signal to the hypothalamus, which produces ADH, and sends it to the posterior lobe of the pituitary gland for release. The job of ADH is to stop you urinating, so you hang on to your precious water.
Alcohol fights against this ADH production. It reduces how much ADH you make, so it increases how much urine you produce. While alcohol is making you more and more dehydrated, which should signal more and more ADH being produced, ADH production actually slows and you keep on going to the bathroom.
Remember, sugarcane juice helps reduce alcohol’s negative impact on your body. Along with improving the taste of your favorite cocktail, now you have the added benefit of its rehydrating powers. Drink responsibly, use sugarcane juice.