Grenadine is a classic pomegranate-based sweetener found in many drinks, and often an integral flavor agent in popular cocktails. So it's a shame that such an essential ingredient is sold commercially as a cheap, chemically sweet substance often lacking real pomegranate juice. Today's grenadine is rife with high-fructose corn syrup and food coloring, a far cry from the preservative-free original.
Fortunately for home bartenders, it's quite easy to make your own grenadine. There are two popular methods to making grenadine, one that involves cooking on the stove and one that doesn't. For the latter, grab a bottle of POM Wonderful pomegranate juice, a bag of sugar and a jar.
Add one cup of POM pomegranate juice and one cup of granulated sugar into a jar. Shake vigorously until the sugar is dissolved. Add another ounce of sugar and once again shake with gusto. The end result is a bright, fresh grenadine readily able to sweeten up your drink without the artificial cloying flavor of commercial grenadines. And depending on your personal tastes, you can add more or less sugar to achieve your desired sweetness.
The other method of making grenadine is to cook it on the stove. Simply add two cups of POM pomegranate juice to a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer until the liquid has been reduced by half. Add one cup of sugar, and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. The result is a rich, red grenadine with a slightly different flavor than grenadine created using the "cold process" detailed above. An optional step for either method is to add an ounce of high proof vodka or grain alcohol to act as a preservative.
Now that you've got some homemade grenadine, try using it in cocktails like the El Presidente, Scofflaw or Jack Rose, and note how the fresh grenadine complements the integrity of each ingredient without masking flavors or leaving a chemical taste on the palate. Similar to homemade simple syrup, homespun grenadine is a great addition to any home bar, and one that will improve the flavor, color and texture of your cocktails.
Kevin Gray is the editor of Cocktail Enthusiast, a cocktails and spirits blog exploring drink recipes, liquor reviews and drinking news.