Glass of rum-based alcoholic lemon mojito cocktail with crushed ice, mint leaves and a blue and white striped drinking straw.
One Simple Ingredient Can Resurrect Horribly Sour Cocktails
By Elizabeth Thorn
Adding sugar can help balance the acidity of a cocktail and give it the hint of sweetness needed for the base flavors to shine. It can also reduce the spiciness in a recipe.
In mixology, a substance's relative sweetness compared to sucrose (table sugar) is measured on the sweetness index, which helps you balance different flavors proportionally.
For example, table sugar has an index of 1.0, agave has an index of 1.4, and honey sits closer on the scale to sucrose with an index of 1.1.
One of the best sugars for fixing drinks is a simple syrup (sugar dissolved in water at a 1:1 ratio), which adds sweetness to drinks without giving a grainy texture.
Typically, an ounce of simple syrup is enough to balance out one ounce of citrus juice, but you don't want to cancel out the other flavors entirely.
You can also use maple syrup for a more complex taste, but using flavored syrups can affect the drink's flavor profile.
A few classic recipes that often require a dash of sugar to balance their flavor include the whiskey sour, margarita, daiquiri, and sour mix-based cocktails.