I have a hard time getting sugar to fully dissolve when I'm stirring a cocktail (for example, an old fashioned). I'm using granulated sugar (https://www.dominosugar.com/sugar/granulated-sugar) and I tend to stir a small amount in a shaker with 100+ quick circles and the sugar still hovers in the middle and sits on the bottom without dissolving. What am I doing wrong?

3 Answers 3


Most cocktails use sugar syrup (e.g. simple syrup with a water to sugar ratio of 1:1 or 1:2) instead of granulated sugar. This eliminates the need to dissolve the grains in - typically cold - liquids.

When you consider powdered (confectioner's) sugar because of the smaller grain size, remember that they will most likely contain anti-caking agents like starch or tricalcium phosphate. I'm not entirely sure how much this would influence the final taste, though.

  • 2
    syrup/sirup is the best solution (pun intended) IMHO.
    – Ecnerwal
    May 13, 2015 at 20:48
  • @Ecnerwal: and you solved the problem before it arises ;-)
    – Stephie
    May 13, 2015 at 20:52
  • 4
    Anti-caking agents aren't always soluble, and could impart a cloudiness to the final product. May 13, 2015 at 23:18
  • Thanks! Even better. I've started making my own simple syrup and storing it in mason jars.
    – tarun713
    May 19, 2015 at 18:52

You should use 'superfine' sugar, which is broken down much smaller so that it'll dissolve better in cold liquids.

You can make your own by putting some sugar into a food processor and whizzing it around for a bit.

You can also make a simple or heavy syrup, so you don't have to worry about sugar dissolving. Heavy syrup will keep longer in the fridge, as the sugar in large amounts is a preservative

  • 1
    Ah, thanks. I think what I was missing here was that granulated sugar is not the same as superfine sugar.
    – tarun713
    May 13, 2015 at 20:31

Joe and Stephie's recommendations of simple syrup and superfine sugar are the best way to go in my opinion, but if you're lazy, in a hurry, or don't have superfine sugar, you can make a "poor man's" simple syrup by kickstarting it with hot water.

For instance, if following a mojito recipe that calls for 1 oz of simple syrup -- which is normally made with equal parts by volume of sugar and water -- I'd mix 1/2 oz of sugar with an 1/8 oz of hot water, and then once mostly dissolved, add the remaining 3/8 oz of cold water. If making several drinks, scale accordingly, or just do this mixing in each glass.

(On a side note, you can allegedly make superfine sugar by processing granulated sugar in a food processor; however, I've seen others online complaints that it ruined the plastic on their processors, so take this suggestion with a grain of salt/sugar.)

  • 2
    my food processor is a hand-me-down, so I didn't consider that aspect -- it's possible that it could scour the sides of the work bowl, giving it a 'frosted glass' appearance. But you might actually want regular granulated sugar for a mojito or other cocktails that involve muddling. (as it gives more texture to bruise whatever it is that you're muddling).
    – Joe
    May 19, 2015 at 20:35

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