So, this deals with a recipe, but not a cocktail. More of an ingredient for cocktails.
Here’s the deal. Grenadine is basically pomegranate syrup. You might think “why don’t they just call it pomegranate syrup?” but that has to do with the history of pomegranates themselves. It’s an ancient fruit (like Greek mythology type ancient) whose name comes from the Latin for “seeded apple.” From there we get the French pomme grenade, and it’s a quick jump from grenade to grenadine. In case you’re wondering, yes, grenades, those things you throw at enemy soldiers, comes from the French grenade for pomegranate because of the similar, hand-held shape.
It’s a tasty red syrup, but there’s a big difference between the real stuff, and the bright red goo on store shelves. Rose’s is a popular brand, but it’s pretty much just sugar water with red food coloring. Sure, there’s “natural and artificial flavorings” but it doesn’t taste like much of anything. The real stuff is actually made from pomegranate juice, which itself has a pretty short list of ingredients. Very short, actually: 100% pomegranate juice. For grenadine you add sugar. Maybe a little orange blossom/flower water, and vodka as a preservative. But the main ingredient is the pomegranate juice. To make your own, you can juice a pomegranate, which is as difficult as plucking every little seed (called “arils”) and steeping, straining, juicing everything, or you can cut a pomegranate in half and throw it on your big ol’ juicer.
Both of those are too time consuming for me, so I skip all that and buy a bottle of POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice.
The real stuff, but the easy way.
So now you’ve got your juice. Here’s where the methods split. There’s the easier “cold” method, which is to pour equal parts juice and sugar into a jar, and shake it. And shake. And shake. Until all the sugar is dissolved. Good luck with that. It might help if you heat the POM up first. This supposedly creates a brighter, fruitier syrup, though I like mine a little on the heavier side, so I use the “hot” method listed below. Apparently there’s also a “super cold” method using a bit of freeze reduction. Might try that one in the future as well.
2. Boil it on the stove until it reduces by half (a simmer is preferred, but takes WAY longer)
3. Add 1 cup sugar per cup of reduced juice (superfine sugar dissolves easier, but regular granulated works fine)
4. Pour into a container of your choice (a condiment squeeze bottle works quite well
5. Add a few drops of orange flower water
6. Add a shot of vodka as a preservative
7. Keep it in the fridge, as sugar and juice will spoil if left out. Should last several months.
Now, the regular bottle of POM, which is what I used, is 16oz, or two cups. Reduce that down to one cup, and add one cup of sugar. This yields about 8-10oz, which was enough to last me several months with the last batch. Since then I’ve become fond of recipes such as the Jack Rose, Presidente, Red Raider, and others that use grenadine. When it says “a dash” I tend to add “a dollop” since it’s so tasty.
A note on reduction: I had no idea what this was until I made my first batch of grenadine. I’m not a chef. To reduce something means to boil it down, which typically concentrates it. I find that the reduction “hot” method of preparing grenadine makes a more viscous syrup, and gives it a deeper flavor. So how do you know when you’ve reduced the liquid by half? Well, the little trick I found was to stick a toothpick in the liquid when you first start, and mark the level with a permanent marker. Then, as it boils down, you can dip the toothpick and check the progress. Once you’ve hit the halfway mark on the toothpick, turn off the heat and dump in the sugar, stirring until it dissolves.
It’s stupidly easy. Trust me… I’m a lazy jerk, and even I make my own. The POM is a little pricey, but well worth it. Go make some.