Do-It-Yourself Drinking With Jean-Georges Vongerichten
Jean-Georges, he of such restaurants as, well, Jean Georges, Spice Market, and Mercer Kitchen, encouraged a novel idea behind his restaurants' bars, one that has earned him a good load of dollar bills. JGV was a pioneer in figuring out that herb-infused simple syrups work wonderfully with sparkling wines, and it's certainly a trick you can perform yourself at home (and it's a trick that lets restaurants charge $15 for cocktails that have "exotic" ingredients like thyme and lemongrass). All you need to do to make basic simple syrup is apply heat to two parts sugar to one part water. Once you have that going, you can toss whatever you fancy into the pan, cook for a bit, and then strain. In a matter of minutes, you'll have incredibly fancy and easy simple syrups.