Burnt Sugar Syrup
I love burnt sugar syrup. Its complex flavor does really well in many cocktails. It also works well in coffee and lattes. It’s less sweet than regular simple syrup, so I use a little more of this when swapping them out.
Add the sugar to a saucepan and heat over medium-high heat. Do not stir it. After several minutes, the sugar will begin to melt and bubble. If you still have dry sugar on top, stir it in so it melts.
Allow the sugar to heat for a few more minutes until it is a light brown color. The longer you heat it, the darker it will get—and the less sweet the resulting syrup will be. Don’t go too dark, however, or it will really burn.
Remove from heat and slowly add the water. Be careful as the mixture will boil angrily and will release steam that can burn you. (Melted sugar is well above the boiling temperature of water!) Once it calms back down, stir together. The sugar will often seize up, which is okay. Return the pan to medium low heat and stir until the seized sugar has dissolved back into a liquid.
Allow this to cool and store it in the fridge.
Bonus: Caramel Sauce
If you can make burnt sugar syrup, you’re not far off from making amazing homemade caramel sauce to go on ice cream or other desserts. The only fundamental difference is caramel sauce is made with cream instead of water. And often a little salt and butter is added to enhance the flavor. Here is the caramel sauce recipe I use.