Even with the pomegranate craze passing its pinnacle, it’s still a surprise to many folks when they learn that grenadine is traditionally pomegranate syrup and not cherry. Cherry colas all over the country are misnamed daily. Probably the most popular grenadine syrup, Rose’s, is all artificial flavors and corn syrup, and has even less to do with the original grenadine than cherry-flavored syrups.
But, because of the pomegranate craze, there’s an interesting phenomenon at the local liquor store. Sitting next to the bottles of cheap grenadine are bottles of pomegranate liquor that are over five-times more expensive. I won’t begrudge the customers who want premium ingredients in their liqueurs, but, I’ve said this before, I don’t drink alcohol for my health. A cheap bottle of grenadine liqueur, usually around $7, works for whatever I need it for, which is a fruity, but not citrusy, burst and that crazy red color. The cheap bottles have caramel color, which I pooh-poohed in regards to Crème de Cacao, but that’s because I don’t think the color of the Crème de Cacao is necessary. For grenadine, the color is essential.
Another choice in grenadine is whether or not to buy it with alcohol or without. Obviously, bartenders making Shirley Temples for groups of children should not purchase the alcoholic version, but my feeling otherwise is to stick alcohol in as many things as possible, so I get the liqueur, not the syrup. Back to the Rose’s: In New York, if you purchase Rose’s in a liquor store, it will have 1% alcohol. Liquor stores in New York cannot sell any bottle without alcohol. Supermarkets and convenience stores will have the non-alcohol Rose’s.
Several years ago, I was asked to create a Shirley Temple-like drink, but with alcohol. So I made the Shirley Temple Black.
Shirley Temple Black
- 1 oz. grenadine syrup or liqueur
- 1½ oz. vodka
- 1½ oz. juice from fresh squeezed lemon, lime, and/or orange
- 4–6 oz. ginger ale
- Thin, round slice of orange & Maraschino cherry for garnish
- Ice cubes
DirectionsAdd ice to Collins- or pint-glass. Pour grenadine, vodka, and juice into glass; top with ginger ale. Arrange the orange slice and cherry onto a cocktail toothpick and float over ice cubes. Serve with drinking straw.
Out of any drink I’ve put together, that one has gotten the most requests for another round. It’s good, since I can use whatever citrus fruits I have lying around, but it’s a labor-intensive drink.
As far a grenadine providing color, the quintessential cocktail using grenadine for a very lovely effect is the Tequila sunrise.
- 2 oz. tequila, plata or reposado
- 4 oz. orange juice
- 1 pony grenadine
- Ice cubes to fill two-thirds of a Collins- or pint-glass or juice goblet
DirectionsCombine tequila and orange juice in a shaker and pour into glass with ice cubes. Gently pour grenadine over juice and do not stir—the grenadine will sink to the bottom and the orange juice will float above.
Those bottles of Pom work well in any of the above too, but there is more sugar in grenadine, so a proper substitute would be to combine 2-parts pomegranate juice to 1-part sugar. Combine and shake, if in a hurry, or heat slowly in a saucepan to reduce to a syrup. The cooked, reduced syrup can be cooled and combined with vodka, in an opposite formation of 1-part syrup to 2-parts vodka, for a homemade grenadine that would put any of the $35 bottles to shame. It won’t be quite as red as the cheap stuff, though.