real life test kitchen: rosemary-lemon simple syrup

Most of the time when I buy fresh herbs, I use a handful or two and then, sadly, they go back into the vegetable bin, A.K.A. the graveyard. I almost never go through a full bunch, which is so wasteful it makes me feel ashamed. So I started thinking about what to do with leftover herbs when they are still fresh, other than eating parsley salads or making a ton of pesto. And I think I came up with a pretty cool solution: herb-infused simple syrups. You can use the syrups to fancify cocktails, sweeten iced tea, or make your own (Super cheap! All natural!) soda with some fizzy water. My current favorite flavor is lemon-rosemary, but you could substitute any fresh herbs you already have on hand. Don’t like lemon? Try lime, blood orange, grapefruit, or leave out the citrus altogether. It’s a pretty foolproof recipe and livens up so many different types of drinks. –Lisa C. Click for the recipes for rosemary-lemon simple syrup and cocktails!

Rosemary-lemon simple syrup
(Makes about 1 1/2 cups)
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 lemon, zested and cut in half (remove the seeds)
1 handful rosemary (or any fresh herb)

Put all your ingredients in a small pot over medium heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. Let the mixture come to a boil, then cover the pot and let it steep for 30 minutes to an hour. Uncover and squeeze the lemons, releasing all of the juice. Remove the lemon halves and the rosemary. Pour into a jar. The syrup can keep for up to a month, covered in the refrigerator.

For a rosemary-lemon vodka gimlet:
Fill a highball or short drinking glass halfway with ice. Add two shots of vodka (I used Oval vodka, but any kind will do) and two spoonfuls of syrup. Top off with soda water and stir until combined. Garnish with a rosemary sprig or lemon slice.

For rosemary-lemon soda:
Pour three tablespoons of the syrup into a tall glass. Fill with soda or tonic water and stir. Add ice.

For rosemary-lemon iced tea:
Fill a tall glass with unsweetened iced tea. Add three tablespoons of the syrup and stir. Add ice.

From our partners

Mmmm. I could go for some lemon basil syrup. This is such a smart idea. One question, though, since I can totally picture myself screwing this up: So you bring the syrup mixture to a boil, and then do you turn off the heat before the 30 minutes of steeping? Or do you just turn down the heat? Or do you keep it at a boil (probably not, right?)? Just have to check before I do it wrong and find myself scraping out a sticky pot with no yummy syrup to show for it. Thanks!

Hi Daffodil!

I like to bring the mixture to a boil, then turn off the heat and cover the pot with a lid. That way the basil steeps and really infuses the syrup.

More info here on basil lemonade:


Whoops–I obviously have basil on the brain. I meant rosemary in the first few lines there…

The link does direct you to a basil lemonade recipe, though.


I freeze fresh rosemary to use later. I do the same thing with fresh ginger, but I grate it first and put it in little 1 tablespoon bundles.

Joyce Wankel

I tried this drink with just plain Rosemary infused simple syrup which
I already had made in the frige. I used Vodka my R.M. inused syrup, fresh lime juice and topped it with LaCroix natural lime flavored sparkling water. It was really good! Thanks for the recipe.
Let me favorie drink: Choice Joice’s Buzzing Margarita: Into a shaker over ice pour 3 parts of a good gold Tequila, (try to find one that is made from 100% of the Agave Catus plant), 2 parts Grand Gala (a really great take off of Grand Marnier but alot more reasonable), or Grand Marnier if you can afford it or if you have it on hand. If you don’t have either of these you can substitue Triple Sec. (It won’t be the same but not too bad.) The Grand Marnier and Grand Gala have a brandy base which give this drink a unique flavor mixed with the tequila and the basil simple syrup. 1 1/2 parts fresh lime juice and 1 1/2 parts basil infused simple syrup. Shake well. Rim a Margarita glass with lime juice and roll the rim lightly in kosher salt. Carefully pour the mixed drink into a
a glass trying to avoid hitting the edge of the glass which is rimmed in salt. If you don’t like the salt or if your trying to avoid sodium, just omit the salt! Top with a squeeze of fresh lime! O.M.G! The girls in the neighborhood usually have a girls night out at one of our houses every other weekend. It great therapy to socialize with friends and we
don’t have to worry about driving home, because we are right in the neighborhood. Try it You will like it!. Don’t drink more than 3 or you may e sorry the next morning!. Just have fun, socialize, and be safe! Don’t drink and drive!

cocktail copycat « birch and lace

[…] usually i let jesse handle the mixology in our apartment, but this was my project. i started off making the lemon rosemary syrup which was as simple as i thought it would be. i used a recipe i found and pinned from here. […]