Pumpkin spice is THE flavor of fall. From pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving dinner to the famed Pumpkin Spice Latte, pumpkin spice is the taste of the fall season.
How do you get pumpkin spice flavor into cocktails? Use a homemade pumpkin spice simple syrup. The syrup allows you to pour sweet pumpkin spice flavor into any cocktail. It’s easy to make with pumpkin, spices, sugar, and water.
As the leaves began to change and we made plans for Thanksgiving, I wanted to surprise my wife with a pumpkin spice cocktail. Of course, after I made several variations of pumpkin spice simple syrup in the kitchen, she had figured out the surprise.
I experimented with ratios and settled on brown sugar instead of white. I mixed a lot of drinks. And drank them. I can say from experience that this recipe makes the best pumpkin spice simple syrup for cocktails.
Pumpkin spice simple syrup recipe
Pumpkin Spice Simple Syrup
- 1 can pumpkin puree
- 1 cup Water
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 1 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
- Combine pumpkin and water in a blender and process until smooth
- Transfer pumpkin to saucepan, add remaining ingredience, and stir over low heat until sugar melts and mixture is a golden brown color
- Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool
- Pour mixture through a fine mesh strainer to remove solids
- Transfer liquid syrup to a bottle
Detailed instructions and notes
Be sure you use canned pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling! I recommend brown sugar for this recipe, but you can use white sugar or raw (turbinado) sugar if you need to substitute. If you’re like me, and don’t do a lot of baking, you may not know what pumpkin pie spice is or how to get it. It’s really easy. Go to the spices section at the grocery store and buy a bottle of “pumpkin pie spice.”
Even though the pumpkin is already puréed, I like to blend the canned pumpkin with the cup of water to make sure it’s finely processed. Later, I strain out the pumpkin solids, so I want to get as much flavor out of the pumpkin as possible. My Ninja blender makes quick work of the pumpkin.
Transfer the blended pumpkin and water into a 1 quart saucepan. You may need a spatula to get it all.
In the saucepan over low heat, stir in the brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice. Stir frequently to incorporate all the ingredients as the sugar melts. When all the sugar has melted and the mixture has changed from orange to golden brown, remove from the heat and cover.
I don’t boil my simple syrup, pumpkin or otherwise. When water boils, it changes from a liquid to a gas and escapes. So, by boiling the water, you’re actually changing the ratio of sugar to water and making the syrup sweeter. I use just enough heat to melt the sugar so there are no granules left.
You may notice that I used 2 cups of sugar, instead of the 1 cup called for in the regular simple syrup recipe. That’s because of the extra water in the pumpkin – we’ll get about 2 cups of syrup from this recipe. It will be slightly sweeter than a 1:1, but not quite as sweet as a 2:1. Extra sweetness is good. Think pumpkin pie.
After the mixture has cooled and the pumpkin flavors have been extracted, it’s time to filter out the pumpkin solids. Pour the contents through a fine mesh strainer to separate the liquid syrup from the pumpkin matter. The straining process will take some time, and you may have to unclog the strainer a few times to filter all the syrup.
Lastly, transfer the filtered syrup to your storage vessel. I funnel my syrup into a bottle for easy pouring, but you could also use a carafe, pitcher, or mason jar. Don’t throw away the remaining pumpkin! It makes a delicious “pumpkin butter” you can spread on toast, bagels, and english muffins.
Best Cocktails to make with pumpkin spice simple syrup
While it’s possible to substitute pumpkin spice simple syrup in any recipe calling for simple syrup, some will taste better than others.
Cocktails like the Old Fashioned make good foundations for adding a little pumpkin spice. You can also build dessert drinks around it, or experiment with coffee liqueurs.
Personally, I don’t think the pumpkin spice flavor works well with citrus. I haven’t been able to make a sour cocktail that worked. Pumpkin Spice Daiquiri? Yuck.
Pumpkin spice simple syrup FAQ
How do you store it?
Store your syrup in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
How long will it keep?
Because sugar is a natural preservative, the pumpkin spice simple syrup should keep for a week, at least. Just like regular simple syrup, if you begin to see black spots, it’s time to throw it out.
Can I use it in coffee?
Absolutely! Use it in coffee, chai, oatmeal, or anything else that calls for sugar.