Thursday, September 07, 2006

Grenadine Guide

Grenadine syrup most likely gets its name from "grenada," the Spanish word for pomegranates. The original preparation was made from sweetened pomegranate juice, or the juice of pomegranate seeds, which would ferment and result in a mildly alcoholic syrup. Modern grenadine is a non-alcoholic combination of sugar, water, fruit flavorings, and food coloring - nary a pomegranate to be found. Although it is commonly believed that grenadine syrup comes from the Grenadine Islands or perhaps Grenada, neither country grows pomegranates. Interesting.

Ok, so enough technical information. Now that we know what grenadine is, let's get down to the more important question: how can we use it? Like most things behind the bar, grenadine can be used for both flavoring and coloring. Typically, it is the easiest way to turn a drink red and when used for this purpose becomes little more than glorified food dye. It can also add sweetness and in this capacity is used just like simple syrup or even bar sugar. Finally, it adds flavoring, and this is where you'll want to put your bar chef hat on.

Since most people (especially in the U.S.) have no clue what pomegranate juice tastes like, most of us think of it as a cherry-like flavoring and this is how I teach people to use it. It works well in almost any fruit drink, especially strong rum drinks that need an extra bit of sugar to counter the alcohol bite. It is a classic addition to non-alcoholic sodas, being the main ingredient in Shirley Temples (grenadine and ginger ale), Roy Rogers (grenadine and cola), and cherry sodas (grenadine and soda water). And thinking in terms of cherry syrup, we see that it can add a "cherry on top" finish to dessert drinks like chocolate or cream-based cocktails. On that note, it's traditional to add a cherry garnish to most drinks that use this versatile syrup.

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