Making simple syrup is, appropriately enough, super simple. And it's an essential ingredient in many cocktails (and also very convenient for sweetening iced coffee or tea), so it's worth whipping some up.
The combination is just equal parts sugar and water. We've seen numerous recipes that tell you to bring water to a boil, yada yada yada...but this is our preferred way of making it: combine equal parts sugar and warm water in a jar (Ball jars conveniently have the measurements on the side, so you can measure while you pour). Put the lid on the jar and shake it up until all the sugar is dissolved. And viola - you're ready for numerous festive cocktails - just keep it in your fridge so you have it on hand when you feel inspired to spontaneously mix up a drink. Most cocktails only call for about an ounce per drink, so a batch of one cup sugar/one cup water lasts awhile.
You can also make infused simple syrup by adding an ingredient to the sugar/water mixture and letting it steep awhile before straining the ingredient out. For vanilla simple syrup, add one vanilla bean split in half to 1-cup each of sugar and water. Let it steep for about 8-10 hours before taking the vanilla bean out. One of our favorites is ginger simple syrup - add about 2 inches of ginger to the 1-cup sugar/water mix. Because of ginger's strong flavor, you can steep this for less time - try about a half an hour or so and then remove the ginger before storing the syrup. Rosemary simple syrup adds a subtly complex flavor to cocktails. Add about a tablespoon of the herb to the 1-cup sugar/water mix. Steep for 10-30 minutes and then, using a fine mesh strainer, strain out and discard all the rosemary leaves. There is no wrong way to do it. Play around with different ingredients - citrus peels, cinnamon, even sliced chili peppers - and with the length of steeping time, and you can have a signature sweetener to stock your bar with.