The sweetening agent you choose can have a major impact on the flavor, texture, and overall depth of your drink. Simple syrup, made by combining granulated sugar and hot water, is the most common, but it will give your cocktail only a neutral sugariness. For a richer, confectionary taste, try brown or demerara (natural) sugar. Agave nectar is a less processed and lower glycemic alternative that lends a warm, earthy roundness and a hint of toasted marshmallow. Orgeat, used mostly in tiki-style drinks, is produced using almonds and orange flower water and provides an elegant viscosity. My two all-time favorites? You already have them in your pantry: honey and maple syrup. How sweet.
Lindsay Nader mixes drinks at Hollywood's Harvard & Stone and runs the food and drink blog The N.A.D.E.R.