Homemade Grenadine Is Worth the Squeeze
Grenadine has a long history and complicated legacy. Often mischaracterized as cloying, when made correctly, the non-alcoholic pomegranate sweetener is bright and balanced. It adds nuanced flavors and color to everything it touches, from classic whiskey and tequila cocktails to non-alcoholic drinks.
If you’re eager to separate the real McCoy from technicolored imposters, consider this your guide to grenadine, a criminally misunderstood ingredient.
What Is Grenadine?
Grenadine is a sweetener made of pomegranate juice, water and sugar. Alternatively, some bartenders add orange blossom water to their grenadine recipes, and others spike theirs with vodka. At its most essential, however, grenadine is a simple syrup that swaps some of its water for pomegranate juice.
According to drinks historian Camper English, “real grenadine from pomegranates was being made and sold in New York in 1872.” Its name is believed to derive from the French word for pomegranate, grenade.
There isn’t typically alcohol in grenadine, nor does it contain cherry syrup. The latter is a misperception that persists because some U.S. bartenders in the early 20th century tinted their drinks red with cherry juice or Maraschino liqueur, among other rosy-hued ingredients, in lieu of making an actual, pomegranate-based grenadine.
Cocktails with Grenadine
In cocktails, grenadine complements an array of spirits, including whiskey, rum, tequila, gin and more. Look for it in classic cocktails like the Jack Rose, Pink Lady, Scofflaw, Tequila Sunrise and El Presidente.
One reason grenadine is an effective cocktail ingredient is that pomegranates are so balanced. Unlike acidic citrus fruits, like lemons and limes, pomegranates’ natural sugars offset their tang. According to the USDA, eight ounces of pomegranate juice contains approximately 31 grams of sugar, whereas lemon juice has six grams.
Those sweet-tart flavors enable bartenders to swap equal-parts grenadine for simple syrup in all sorts of drinks, writes author John deBary in Drink What You Want. “It’s one of my favorite ways to add a distributive hit of sweetness, acidity and juicy aromatics to a cocktail.”
Non-Alcoholic Grenadine Drinks
One of the most famous non-alcoholic grenadine drinks is the Shirley Temple, a 1930s creation named for the child actor and performer. It combines one ounce of grenadine with eight ounces of lemon-lime soda like Sprite or 7-Up. It’s usually served over ice, in a highball glass and topped with a cocktail cherry.
Another non-alcoholic grenadine drink with nostalgic appeal is the Roy Rogers, which swaps the Sprite or 7-Up for Coke or Pepsi.
If you prefer a less sweet non-alcoholic grenadine drink, consider the Crackling Rose. It features grenadine alongside freshly squeezed lemon, tart cranberry juice and rosewater.
Or, keep things simple and stir a tablespoon of grenadine into sparkling water or ginger beer. Add a squeeze of lemon or lime, and serve over ice.
Quality bottled pomegranate juice from brands like POM and Lakewood are sold online and in many grocery stores. You can also press your own by quartering and squeezing fresh fruit.
Combine pomegranate juice, sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat, but don’t bring to a boil. Stir until sugar dissolves.
Remove from heat and cool. Store, covered in the refrigerator, for 3 to 4 weeks.