It's holiday time, and that means everyone is trying to make sweet, sweet cocktails to dull the pain of old family wounds. Or to enjoy friends and the gatherings with which the season is rife. Or, of course, to celebrate the solstice and the return of the Old Ones.
Regardless, red is a color of the seasons, and the quickest way to sweeten up and make festive a plain old cocktail is Grenadine. Sweet, syrupy, and red. This is where people start to go horribly, HORRIBLY wrong.
That half full, stuck shut bottle of Rose's Grenadine you've had sitting since last season? Kill it with fire. Throw it out.
If you think Rose’s makes Grenadine, you’ve been lied to.
Rose’s makes cherry-flavoured corn syrup. Actually, per Wikipedia "The Mott's brand "Rose's" is by far the most common brand of grenadine sold in the United States, and is formulated from (in order of concentration): high fructose corn syrup, water, citric acid, sodium citrate, sodium benzoate, FD&C Red #40, natural and artificial flavors, and FD&C Blue #1. In Europe, Bols still manufactures grenadine with pomegranate".
Grenadine should be made with pomegranate juice. I have it on good authority that juicing pomegranates is not worth it and that POM or Trader Joe’s pomegranate juice does a better job. The trick is to get 100% pomegranate juice...but don’t worry; making grenadine is easy.
If you have some Rose’s in your bar, never fear...you can improve it immensely by mixing it 50/50 with fresh POM and shaking the hell out of it. Trust me, the difference is night and day.
You can make grenadine using "hot process" (by heating the juice to reduce it and blend in sugar) and by using "cold process" (by shaking the hell out of it to get the same effect).
Hot process is great, and fast, but can scorch if you aren’t careful. Holds up a little better in a multi-ingredient cocktail. I usually go with hot process. Enjoy.
2 Cups POM
1 Cup Sugar
Splash of hi-proof booze (Let's go with Wray and Nephew overproof rum) as a preservative.
Pour two cups of POM into a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer over medium-low heat until reduced by half. Add one cup of sugar, and stir until dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool; if desired, add high-proof vodka or grain alcohol as a preservative (it also keeps well, and doesn’t freeze solid, in a plastic container in the freezer).
This process produces a grenadine that has a deeper color and a richer flavor. While the cold process makes a grenadine that is fresh and light, the hot process makes a more intensely flavored end product, with a distinct “cooked” taste. It’s still not as sweet as the commercial versions, so you may need to alter the proportions in your cocktail recipes, but the rich, red color is there.
Imbibe magazine grenadine. (Cold process)
2 cups POM (or Trader Joes) passionfruit juice
1 cup ultra fine sugar
2 tbsp Orange Flower Water #
“Splash” (1 oz) Wray and Nephew overproof (as preservative)- shake
like hell and voila, you got homemade grenadine, no cooking or
# Orange Flower Water is distilled from orange blossoms, and doesn’t taste like oranges at all. You can find it in better-stocked grocery stores, or specialty food stores, especially those with a good Mediterranean section. If all else fails, there’s Amazon. Monteaux is a good brand.
Happy Solstice! "Iä! Iä! Cthulhu Fhtagn!