Putting your own artisanal touch on summer refreshment is simple. Literally.

Simple syrups are an often overlooked – but as the name suggests, incredibly easy – way of adding sweet panache to a wide variety of drinks. And summer's demand for tall and cool beverages is an excellent excuse to get acquainted with them.

Simple syrup is a standard bartending ingredient used as a sweetener in many cocktails (it dissolves more readily than dry sugar), as well as for soaking or glazing some baked goods.

While it can be purchased, a simple syrup is easily made by combining water and granulated sugar, heating until dissolved, then cooling.

The syrups also can be flavored by adding fruit, herbs, citrus zest or other ingredients and allowing them to steep overnight. Once strained, the syrups can be used as a beautiful, flavorful way to spike seltzer water (creating your own soda), cocktails or even coffee (especially iced).

A traditional ratio for simple syrup is equal parts sugar and water. But when the syrup is intended for cocktails and other drinks, it's more common to use two parts sugar to one part water. This ratio creates a thicker syrup that both sweetens and adds body to a drink.

To help you get started, we've created eight flavored simple syrups, as well as drink recipes to use them in. Six of the syrups follow the same basic method, and have been condensed into one recipe. The remaining two have individual approaches.

Basic FlavoredSimple Syrup

Start to finish: 10 minutes active (plus steeping overnight)

Makes 2 to 2 1/2 cups (depending on added ingredients)

2 cups sugar

1 cup water

In a small saucepan over medium, combine the sugar and water. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat. Add flavoring ingredients (see options below), then set aside until cooled. Transfer to an airtight jar, cover and let sit overnight.

Use a mesh strainer to strain the syrup, discarding any solids. Return the syrup to the jar and refrigerate for up to 2 months.

Flavoringsuggestions

Chili-saffron:

1 large pinch saffron threads

1 jalapeno chili, chopped

Orange-star anise:

2 whole star anise

Zest from 1 orange

Cranberry-ginger:

6-ounce package (1 cups) dried cranberries

2-inch chunk fresh ginger, sliced

Lemon-thyme:

Zest of 2 lemons

1 package ( ounce) fresh thyme sprigs

Raspberry-lemon:

Zest of 2 lemons

10 ounces frozen raspberries, thawed

Cardamom-vanilla-berry:

1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped into the syrup

6 ounces dried mixed berries

6 cardamom pods, crushed

Pomegranate-Pineapple Simple Syrup

Start to finish: 10 minutes active (plus steeping overnight)

Makes about 4 cups

16-ounce bottle pomegranate juice

3 1/2 cups sugar

6 whole cloves

6 ounces dried pineapple

In a medium saucepan over medium, combine all ingredients. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat and let cool. Transfer to an airtight jar, cover and let sit overnight.

Use a mesh strainer to strain the syrup, discarding any solids. Return the syrup to the jar and refrigerate for up to 2 months.

Caramel-Root Beer Simple Syrup

Start to finish: 1 hour (plus cooling time)

Makes 2 cups

water

1 cup sugar

Four 12-ounce cans root beer

1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped into the syrup

In a large saucepan over medium-high, combine the water and sugar. Bring to a low boil and cook, without stirring, until the syrup is a deep amber.

One at a time, slowly pour in the root beer. The mixture will sputter and froth. Add the vanilla bean, then bring the mixture to a simmer and cook until reduced to 2 cups.

Remove from the heat and let cool. Remove the vanilla bean. Pour the syrup into an airtight jar and refrigerate for up to 2 months.