Bring water to a boil in a small saucepan. Turn off the heat. Add the sugar and stir until completely dissolved. Refrigerate and chill completely before using. If you are flavoring the syrup, let the mixture infuse for 24 hours before straining and using.
- Coffee or tea: Substitute strongly brewed coffee or tea for the water.
- Ginger: Add 6 (or more!) inches ginger, peeled and sliced into coins, with the sugar.
- Herbal: Add a big handful of fresh basil or mint leaves or 3 sprigs fresh rosemary with the sugar. (If you’re using basil or mint, infuse for 30 minutes, then strain and chill.)
- Citrus: Add the peels from 1 lemon, 1 lime, 1 small orange, or 1/2 grapefruit with the sugar.
Emma is a writer and recipe developer at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing articles about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now she lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's cooking column, Big Little Recipes, all about big flavor and little ingredient lists. And see what she's up to on Instagram and Twitter at @emmalaperruque.