Monday, June 15, 2015

Bar School: Grenadine


Like many cocktail newbies, I always thought grenadine referred to cherry juice. Specifically the neon-red cherry juice in the jar of maraschino cherries that the bartenders at weddings would use to make my Shirley Temples when I was little. I knew you could buy a bottle of grenadine, and I figured that was just the same stuff packaged up by itself to make it easier for adding to cocktails. But that's not the case.

Grenadine, real grenadine, is made from pomegranate juice. No cherries involved. In fact, the word comes from the French word for pomegranate, grenade (incidentally, the word "grenade" referring to the bomb probably originates with this French term as well - there's your non-cocktail-related tidbit for the day). As far as when it originated, it's unclear. This post at Alcademics (great name) searches all the classic cocktail books for evidence of when grenadine became widely used. The first mention of it is in 1891 in Cocktail Boothby's American Bartender. Before that, raspberry syrup was more popular than pomegranate. But by the 1910's, grenadine starts popping up everywhere. Popular drinks that are made with grenadine include the Tequila Sunrise, Jack Rose, Ward 8, and Monkey Gland.


The stuff you can buy off the shelf that's labeled "grenadine" is, nine times out of ten, nothing more than high fructose corn syrup dyed red. Seriously. The ingredients in a bottle of Rose's Grenadine are high fructose corn syrup, water, citric acid, sodium citrate, sodium benzoate, red #40, natural and artificial flavors, and blue #1. (Mmmm, blue #1.) It's a shame, because Rose's got its start in 1867 selling sweetened preserved lime juice to British sailors to prevent scurvy, which then became a popular ingredient in 19th century drinks. They're a real piece of cocktail history. Then they were purchased and traded by one big corporation after another (right now they are part of the "Dr. Pepper Snapple" group of Schweppes) and now they make nothing but brightly-colored sugar water. But I digress.

Making grenadine

If you really want to include grenadine in your cocktails, the best thing to do is make it yourself. It's incredibly easy: the recipe is just equal parts pomegranate juice and sugar. Simmer on the stove until the sugar is dissolved. Basically, it's simple syrup with pomegranate juice instead of water. Some people recommend adding a dash of orange flower water or rosewater for flavor, or a bit of vodka to help it keep longer.

Since I've got a big batch of grenadine mixed up, and since that pomegranate juice don't come cheap, I'm officially declaring it "pink week" on Garnish. Whip up your own grenadine and follow along; four very pink recipes are coming your way.


1 part pomegranate juice
1 part sugar
1 dash orange flower water or rosewater (optional)

Combine pomegranate juice and sugar in a saucepan. Simmer on low until sugar is completely dissolved. Let cool. Add orange flower water or rosewater if desired. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

Recipe from David Lebovitz.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.