When I was eleven, my best friend and I worked on a non-alcoholic cocktail bar at a Christian camp (we were definitely the coolest kids in school) but it was there that I first discovered Monin syrups. Even without being on the sauce, the cocktails we made were deliciously moreish - and that had everything to do with the huge variety of syrup flavours we had to play with.
Nowadays, I still can't walk past a Starbucks without 'oohing' at their sign for eggnog lattes (even though I'm supposed to snub them for not paying enough tax - my flimsy political boycott is no match for the epicness of eggnog), but I've never really thought about bringing some of the magnificent flavours syrups can offer into my own home.
Then, I was having a browse on foodie site extraordinaire Cream Supplies, and I think my life has changed for the better. They sell pretty much all the syrup flavours you could dream of, and I literally mean hundreds. Of course they do all the fruity flavours (blueberry and apricot being two of my favourites) but it's much more exciting than that.
Firstly, seeing as 'tis the season and all that, how about some Christmas cake syrup from Malmesbury? All spicy and fruity and warming, and without any evil marzipan on it - hooray! A litre is £5.99.
If you're feeling festive you could also opt for chestnut, cranberry, gingerbread, (all £5.99 per 70cl) and of course my favourite eggnog syrup (£6.95 for a litre) for adding to coffee or drizzling over ice cream alike. Also, instead of milk and cookies, I reckon Santa would much prefer a cocktail with chocolate cookie syrup.
It's not just Christmas they're good for: I'm already planning on creating some kind of wonderful hot cross bun syrup-inspired cocktail for Easter (especially as a litre is only £5.99). I can think of 1001 uses for white chocolate syrup too (one of which being pouring it straight down my gob), although let's face it - I'm hardly going to last until April to use that one.
Herbing up a strawberry-based cocktail has never been cheatier - now I can use basil syrup. I reckon this would also be ace in a mojito, and I can also feel all fresh and healthy (ahem) in my iced teas and martinis with this cucumber syrup (both are £5.99 per 70cl). If flowers are more your thing, I'm all over the rhubarby, zingy hibiscus flower syrup which is £3.99 for 300ml.
This last one might just be my favourite: Routin's toasted marshmallow syrup. OMG. My coffee, booze and ice cream will never be bland again. Give whoever created this (Mr... Routin?) a great big medal.
The litres are generally £6.95 whereas 70cl versions are around £5.99, with postage varying depending on how much you order - it starts at £4.99. What's your dream syrup flavour?