Hudson & Lee simple syrup is truly buzzworthy.
By Lauren Eberle
No matter how you like your mixed drink — shaken, stirred or on the rocks — Greta McCoy wants you to craft a cleaner cocktail. Hudson & Lee, her line of honey simple syrups, are big on flavor without the added sugar.
The idea started five years ago when a shift toward a healthier lifestyle inspired Greta and her husband, Brett, to shake up happy hour. “After becoming parents, we really started to look at our diet — especially the sugars we were consuming,” Greta recalls. Instead of nixing cocktails, the McCoys began playing around with a recipe for a simple syrup made with honey instead of sugar. Friends and family gave rave reviews, and Greta decided to try to bottle the mixture.
The Lake Norman-area couple spent two years making their recipe shelf-stable and developing the modern apothecary branding. For the name, they landed on a classically Southern combination of their two sons’ middle names, and in 2016 Greta began going door to door to retail shops marketing Hudson & Lee Honey Simple Syrup. Packed with simple, vitamin-rich, anti-inflammatory ingredients such as honey, apple cider vinegar and lemon juice, the syrup is free of all the funky stuff — sugar, artificial flavors, dyes and gluten.
Greta cooks the product in a commercial kitchen in Charlotte and hand-labels and distributes the bottles. With honey as its flavor-rich and subtly sweet base, the mixer comes in two styles — original and ginger spice — and is sold by 30-plus nationwide retailers. In Charlotte, it’s on shelves at Rhino Market’s downtown and NODA locations, Paper Skyscraper, Queen City Grounds and Moxie Mercantile in Davidson and Plaza Midwood. Gift packages are available on the Hudson & Lee website and include goodies such as a cocktail recipe bar towel and a clever mason jar shaker. Additionally, the company sells through Amazon.
Hudson & Lee can be substituted for simple syrup in any cocktail recipe — it’s especially delightful in staples including mojitos, margaritas and Moscow mules. Don’t drink? It’s also a healthier addition to iced tea and lemonade, and can be used to sweeten sauces, salad dressings or smoothies.
And while Greta speaks of future expansion, the entrepreneur adds that being a new product on the market — she says it’s the only no-sugar-added honey simple syrup available — requires customer education. “It takes time to teach people about the health and flavor benefits, but we’ve been pleased with our organic growth and can’t wait to see where it leads.”
Cheers to that.
“Cocktails can seem intimidating, but they don’t require much more effort than pouring a glass of wine,” Greta says. Here are a few no-frills recipes for mixing your own at home.
Perfect Citrus Margarita (serves 2)
1/2 cup 100% agave tequila
1/4 cup triple sec
1/4 cup Hudson & Lee Honey Simple Syrup
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
Add six ice cubes to a cocktail shaker along with all ingredients. Cover and shake for 30 seconds. Strain the mixture through a cocktail strainer into glasses with ice, garnish with a lime slice, and serve immediately.
Ginger Rum Punch (serves 1)
1.5 ounce dark rum
1 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 ounce pure pineapple juice
1/2 ounce pure pomegranate juice
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
1/2 ounce Hudson & Lee Ginger Spice Honey Simple Syrup
Splash of club soda or sparkling water
Sliced pineapple wedge for garnish
Place the first six ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake for 30 seconds. Strain into a glass with ice and add a splash of club soda. Top the glass with pineapple garnish.
Honey Mint Mojito (serves 1)
12 fresh mint leaves
1/2 lime, quartered
1.5 ounces white rum
2 tablespoons Hudson & Lee Honey Simple Syrup
Splash of club soda
Mint sprig and lime slice for garnish
Muddle mint leaves and lime quarters in a tall glass; give about eight firm presses. Fill the glass with crushed ice, then add rum and simple syrup. Stir well. Top with a splash of club soda and garnish with a mint sprig and lime slice.