Jerry Garcia and I clearly share passions. Specifically when it comes to good grenadine. For years, my impression of grenadine was Rose’s; the sweet, cherry flavored syrup which made Shirley Temples. As I delved into mixology, I decided to tackle the Tequila Sunrise. It’s a pretty simple drink, but like all drinks, benefits from quality ingredients. I was in the grocery store, picking up some oranges and a bottle of Rose’s grenadine when the ingredients in Rose’s caught my eye. High fructose corn syrup? Preservatives? Natural and artificial flavoring? Whatever grenadine is supposed to be, surely this wasn’t it.
I went home to go look up grenadine recipes and a little more about the syrup. As it turns out, grenadine is actually very simple. It’s pomegranate and sugar. There are lots of other little things people add (orange blossom water is common, almond extract, vodka) but at its core, grenadine is just pomegranate and sugar. I found three recipes I wanted to try out. Two from Cocktail Chronicles and one from Jeffrey Morgenthaler.
One of these is a cold recipe which requires just mixing pomegranate juice, sugar and a whole lot of shaking. Another recipe tells you to reduce pomegranate juice to a syrup and then add sugar. The final recipe (from Morgenthaler) asks you to heat the pomegranate juice just enough to dissolve sugar into it, then add pomegranate molasses and some orange blossom water. After making and trying all three, I found different strengths in each.
The cold version is bright, refreshing and sweet. It has a beautiful color that looks beautiful in a Tequila Sunrise. Still, it lacks some of that richer pomegranate flavor. The reduction recipe has pomegranate richness. It’s bold and thick and sweet. It isn’t quite as refreshing though. Morgenthaler’s recipe is an interesting intersection between the two. It has elements of the bold while maintaining the refreshing. Still, I came up with my own recipe that I like and is relatively easy. It combines the first two recipes and a little bit of Morgenthaler’s to make a grenadine that I find delicious and not too time consuming to make.
- 16oz fresh pomegranate juice
- 1.5 cups sugar
In a saucepan, bring 1 cup pomegranate juice to simmer on a low temperature. Let it reduce until it’s thick and seems to be about 4oz, about 30 minutes. Then, add a half cup of sugar and stir until dissolved. Take off of heat and let cool. Meanwhile, put 1 cup pomegranate juice and 1 cup sugar into shaker. Put an agitator in (I use one of those little metal wire balls found in protein shakers). Add zest from half of the orange, doing your best to release as much of the essential oils as possible. Shake like crazy for about a minute, until sugar is dissolved. Double strain this into a bottle. Pour the cooled pomegranate syrup from the saucepan into the same bottle. Shake and use as necessary.
Note: Some people add vodka to preserve. If you’re running a bar, you probably go through enough grenadine so that you don’t need to do this. If you’re using this at home, it may be a good idea. It doesn’t change the flavor much and will make it last much longer.
Well made grenadine does make a difference and allows you to use it as much more than a sweetener and coloring agent. I find that I love this grenadine in gin drinks. I’ve made a variation on the classic Singapore Sling using grenadine which I can’t recommend highly enough. Play around with the pomegranate flavor, it goes nicely instead of cranberry juice in some recipes and pairs well with lots of bases.