The Pepper Pot and Black Pepper Simple Syrup Recipes

Author Photo
By Dan Jones And Illustrations Daniel Servansky

The Pepper Pot is a fiery little number: a short, opaque and fruity sipper with warm, spicy notes and a sharp citrus tang, which hits the bitter/sweet ratio dead on.


  • premium vodka 45 ml (1 1/2 oz)
  • Black Pepper Syrup (see below) 45 ml (1 1/2 oz)
  • grapefruit juice, freshly squeezed 90 ml (3 oz)
  • grapefruit peel or wedge to garnish
  • Equipment: shaker, strainer
  • Glass Type: tumbler


Shake the vodka, syrup and grapefruit juice vigorously with ice until frosty and strain into a tumbler over ice. Garnish with a grapefruit peel or wedge.

Tip: Twist the peel over the drink to release the citrus oils.


The sweet stuff. Taking the edge off sour citrus flavours and softening the taste of bitter spirits, a dash of sugar syrup can transform a drink, turning the toughest liquor into soda pop. Flavoured syrup adds a level of complexity a fresh ingredient just can’t achieve. And it’s very nearly foolproof to make – start with the Simple Syrup recipe below, graduate to the flavoured recipes, and then begin to create your own. You could always buy them ready-made, but they’re so simple, so you really don’t need to.

It’s not essential to use unrefined sugar, but it’s tastier, chemical-free and – used in all your cocktail recipes and syrup-making – lends a wobbly irregularity to proceedings that could only be handmade.

Photo from Adobe Stock/uckyo

Simple Syrup

Makes enough dashes for approximately 15 drinks


  • 200 ml (7 oz) water
  • 100 g (3 1/2 oz) demerara, cane or granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup or corn syrup (optional)
  • Equipment: Non-stick saucepan, wooden spoon, 200 ml (7 oz) Kilner (Mason) jar or glass bottle with stopper and a funnel


Boil the water in a non-stick saucepan and gently add the sugar. Reduce the heat and stir constantly with a wooden spoon for 3–5 minutes, until all the sugar is dissolved and the syrup is clear. Turn off the heat and leave to cool. While still runny, pour into a sterilized Kilner (Mason) jar or funnel into a sterilised glass bottle with stopper. Adding a spoonful of golden or corn syrup to the cooled mixture now will help keep the syrup smooth. Store in the refrigerator for up to 6 weeks.

Other Infused Syrups

Using Simple Syrup as the base, make your own infusions, tweaking amounts to taste according to the potency of your flavourings. A sprig or two for rosemary syrup should do it, whereas mint or basil syrups – with the leaves being more fragile – require a good handful. It’s not an exact science. Oh, and be sparing with citrus peel as it tends to become bitter.

  • Basil and Lime
  • Black Pepper
  • Chilli
  • Ginger
  • Ground Coffee
  • Honey
  • Mint
  • Rosemary
  • Vanilla Pod (Bean)

Also from Vodka:

When it comes to boozy beverages, vodka is the undisputed king. From the Bloody Mary to the Moscow Mule, vodka is the alcoholic chameleon that is the base of many of the world’s most beloved cocktails. In Vodka: Shake, Muddle, Stir, Dan Jones introduces readers to some fun and classy ways to consume this cherished spirit. Starting with the basic kit for your home bar, and following with the best vodka-makers on the planet, this book will have you shopping for your bartending tools like a pro. With more Martini and Cosmopolitan recipes than you can shake a cocktail shaker at, as well as a glut of amazing cocktails you have never even heard of, this is a collection that will enhance your drink repertoire forever. Including recipes for DIY syrups, sours, infusions and more, Vodka: Shake, Muddle, Stir will show you just how versatile this timeless liquor is.

Recipes excerpted with permission from Vodka: Shake, Muddle, Stir by Dan Jones, published by Hardie Grant Books, October 2019, RRP $16.00 hardcover.

Published on Oct 15, 2019