Build-A-Bar: The Glories of Grenadine

Categories: Booze, How To

Photo by Nicholas L. Hall
Five is right out.
My wife is pregnant. It's our third time in the barrel, and as unexpected a ride as the prior two. We (think we) know what we're in for this time, though, so it should be smooth sailing. To help ensure pacific waters, I'm (mostly) teetotaling in sympathy with my wife for the next 40 weeks or so. That seems like a pretty good reason to revisit my semi-abandoned nonalcoholic "cocktail" experiments. Drink along with me.

Grenadine is probably about as cliché an ingredient as can be found when it comes to the options offhandedly tossed at tee-totaling bar patrons. Shirley Temple, Roy Rogers, soda with a splash of grenadine and whatever else the bartender tosses in disdainfully. If you're in a good bar, one that makes its own grenadine, this won't necessarily result in a bad drink. If you find yourself staring at a bottle of Rose's, though, you're basically getting tinted sugar water for your trouble.

The thing is, grenadine is a classic ingredient in drinks both boozy and not, and it deserves more than a neglected space occupied by a dusty bottle of hummingbird food. It's not even difficult to make. Sure, it takes a couple of slightly esoteric ingredients, but

  1. This is becoming less true in general
  2. &
  3. In a city as multiethnic as Houston, few ingredients are impossible to track down

Those esoteric ingredients? Pomegranate molasses and orange flower water. The first, as far as I can figure it, serves to deepen and reinforce the flavor of the pomegranate juice that makes up the bulk of the volume. (You can skip this if you reduce the pomegranate juice to concentrate its flavor.)

The second is what really makes grenadine shine, in my opinion, adding a subtle but essential perfume to what would otherwise be a fairly straightforward fruity sugar syrup. The fourth ingredient (we covered the third already), I'm hoping you've guessed. It's just sugar. Preferably turbinado sugar, which adds a nice richness to the finished product.

Once you've gotten your hands on those slight oddballs (I picked up both at the Phoenicia Market across from my office downtown), it's really just a matter of combining everything. A little bit of heat helps, if you're in a hurry.

The first time I made grenadine, I immediately started thinking about variations. I do this a lot, and I highly recommend it. From swapping out the almonds in orgeat to adding any number of modifying flavorings to simple syrup, it's a great way to put a fresh spin on an idea and spark creativity in cocktailing, with or without booze.

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Kathy Stabe
Kathy Stabe

Nothing is better than a "real" cherry coke, made with Cola and Grenadine. So good.


Nice use of scare quotes! Basically, that's a Roy Rogers. Agreed, though. They're delicious. 

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