Homemade grenadine is easy to make and so much better than the bought versions. It's packed with bright color and flavor, and perfect to use in a range of cocktails and more.
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Grenadine is well known for adding a bright splash of ruby color to cocktails, but it is otherwise often misunderstood. Some commercial versions lack flavor (not surprising since many have a huge amount of high fructose corn syrup), so people see it purely as a way to add color rather than flavor.
Also, many believe it is made from cherries. This may be partly since it is often paired with cherry liqueur in cocktails, or some interpretation of the flavor. Either way it is not, in fact, true.
What is grenadine made from?
Grenadine is simply sweetened pomegranate juice. In fact the name "grenadine" derives from the French word for pomegranate, "grenade". Most versions use a little lemon juice or orange flower water to give a little fresh citrus edge to it.
You can also add a little pomegranate molasses, which is essentially concentrated pomegranate juice, but certainly not too much as it will make it too dark. You are looking for a nice ruby color, not brown or pale pink. Some will add a touch of plain alcohol such as vodka to help preserve it longer, but I prefer to just make small, usable quantities.
Since pomegranate juice is relatively tart, the end mixture definitely has both sweetness and tartness coming through. You can make it more or less sweet to your taste, but I find the balance here works well.
Making and storing homemade grenadine
Making your own is really easy to do, and has a better flavor than many commercial versions that can be more processed or use more ingredients. You can also scale it up or down to the amount you are likely to use.
You can use bought or freshly squeezed pomegranate juice to make this, depending on what you have or prefer. Making your own juice is really easy - you simple blend up pomegranate seeds in a blender, then strain the liquid and discard the pips and other solids. Alternatively, if you have a juicer you can use that.
Then for the grenadine itself, all you do is combine pomegranate juice and sugar and warm them together to dissolve the sugar. Then add a little lemon, mix in and pour into a clean bottle or jar. Let it cool slightly before sealing.
Store the cooled liquid in the fridge to help it last longer - it should last around 2 - 3 weeks but the exact time can vary. If it smells off, then you should discard it. It's worth making an amount you think you can realistically use to try to avoid needing to waste any.
Classic cocktails using grenadine
Grenadine is a popular addition to many cocktails, in part for flavor but often more to add a bright burst of color. Some examples include:
- Tequila sunrise
- This simple mix of tequila, orange juice and grenadine is served unmixed so that the grenadine sinks to the bottom. This means the colors layer to look like a sunrise. You'll find riffs on the theme using other spirits, like a Brazilian sunrise using cachaça.
- Hurricane cocktail
- This cocktail is a New Orleans classic using two types of rum, passion fruit juice, citrus and, usually, grenadine. It's sweet, fruity and with tropical vibes.
- Zombie cocktail
- Another rum-based drink, but this one with three types! It also has apricot brandy and pineapple, and the grenadine here, too, is typically allowed to settle to the bottom for a layered effect.
- Singapore sling
- This cocktail is one of the more complicated classics, created at the Raffles hotel in Singapore. It's gin based, but includes a range of other ingredients including cherry brandy, Cointreau and pineapple juice.
- Ward 8
- This is one of the few whiskey cocktails using grenadine. You typically make it with rye whiskey and shake with small amounts of lemon, orange and grenadine.
- Jack Rose
- This was a popular Prohibition-era cocktail and is simply applejack, lemon or lime juice and grenadine.
While these are some of the most popular uses, there are many more. And of course it's great to play around with it in your own cocktail creations, like my pomegranate French 75 pictured above, or pink gin fizz.
Non-alcoholic uses for grenadine
While it is perfect to add to cocktails, it can be a little more family-friendly too. It's maybe best known in one of the most famous mocktails, the Shirley Temple. You can also add some to lemonade for a lovely hint of color and flavor, or else simply a dash in sparkling water or tonic. It adds that little something that's refreshing, too.
Homemade grenadine is really so easy to make and is much more than just a pink color in your cocktails. It has such a wonderfully bright, sweet-tart flavor that's great in both cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks. So mix some up and enjoy.
Try these other syrups:
- Ginger syrup
- Pumpkin spice syrup
- Rhubarb syrup
- Plus get more inspiration in the drinks recipes archives.
- ½ cup pomegranate juice freshly squeezed or bought (unsweetened)
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice or 1 or 2 drops orange flower water
- Place the pomegranate juice and sugar in a small saucepan and warm over a medium-low heat. Stir occasionally and remove from heat once the sugar dissolves.
- Add the lemon juice (or orange flower water) and stir then transfer to clean bottle or jar. Store in the fridge to last longer.
See some of my favorite cooking tools and ingredients in the Caroline's Cooking Amazon store.