Hello and welcome to the second installment of our Make or Buy series. I’m so happy to have you here, especially in January when you can practically hear the crickets on this site.
Today we’re going to be looking at Grenadine. Yes, we already have a recipe here on how to make a basic one, but this version I’ve altered as a step up from the most basic way to make it and it’s how I currently make my home bar version.
Grenadine is one of those ingredients I think everyone buys and no one uses. I think in part because 1. it tends to be associated with that kiddie drink the Shirley Temple (and OH YES, that is what we’re going to make today to compare the make vs. buy options) and 2. the commercial products that have been available were full of super processed ingredients and food dye and just not very tasty. But here’s the thing, there are now some really great options out there for buying grenadine at the store, we’ve got one of those today in fact, and also, grenadine is super easy to make. And I’ll show you how.
First let’s talk about what you can buy at the store. I chose Small Hand Foods grenadine syrup as my pick. Why? Because it’s an excellent product and is my go-to when I don’t have mine own syrup on hand. Second, as usual in this series, let’s address the pros and cons. The pros here are great. All natural products, cane sugar, easy to buy (Amazon!), tastes of pomegranates. The cons here are that I find the flavor a bit muted, and because it is not dyed red, you are not going to get that bright red color that one expects grenadine to have in drinks.
If you decide to make your grenadine, you have two choices in regards to the pomegranate base: freshly bottled juice you can buy, or go crazy and juice your own pomegranates. Clearly this can be a pro or a con depending on YOU. Because I do not have the desire to juice 4 pomegranates (which would yield approximately the 2 cups you need to start with), I went with bottled fresh juice. For this version of the syrup I also finish it off with a tablespoon of pomegranate molasses which adds in a lot of zip and tang to the final product. So the pros here for me are that you get a fresher tasting product that you can alter the sweetness, volume, and overall flavor of. Using the fresh juice also means you’re getting a brighter red color in the final product (still not as bright as a food dye though). Also, I reduce the syrup in half resulting in a thicker, more viscous grenadine. On the con side, if you’re constantly switching up your formulas you’re not going to get a consistent product to make drinks with. Also, fresh juice is going to very from fruit to fruit so you might occasionally get a batch you don’t like the flavor of. It also is possible that getting fresh juice in your area is just not an option (nor would growing a tree be). And with all the “make” versions here, you have to make the product and if you’re short on time or inclination then that’s just not going to be fun for you.
So now the choice is up to you. Do you buy a tested and well-loved brand, or do you make your own batch? Or do you do both and have too many syrups in your house like me?
Well, before you decide let’s talk about how these two work in a drink. Oh, but it’s January and half of you aren’t drinking (but you’re lurking around on booze sites like this, huh?)! No worries! We’ll make what I consider the quintessential mocktail, The Shirley Temple.
My earliest memory of having a Shirley Temple was at some relative’s anniversary party or family reunion or something like that where there was a bunch of elderly people in a banquet hall. I was young, but one of these elderly people put a drink in my hand with a cherry in it and OH BOY did I feel like a fancy lady. In fact, I still feel like a fancy lady when I garnish my drinks. Anyways, I inquired as to what I was drinking and I was told it was a Shirley Temple. And really, if you want to feel evenÂ more fancy as a small child, make them a drink, without booze, and give it a name.
The other reason that I chose to use the grenadine here is that it is a pretty simplistic drink, you’ll taste the syrup, and you’ll see how it interacts with just one other ingredient. And just how do they do here? Both were fine! The Small Hand Foods grenadine is much lighter in both appearance and body, so you see that when it’s mixed with the soda. You get more of the soda and less of the grenadine, more like a hint of it. You can adjust here and add more though but I equalled portioned both grenadines out. The homemade batch of grenadine was a thicker syrup so that came across as a brighter red colored drink with more body. The grenadine was more noticeable here in the flavor as well.
And thus concludes this month’s make or buy. Let me know which way you decided to go and don’t forget to tag us in your posts! It’s always fun to see how you all experiment!
2 cups fresh pomegranate juice (bottled or about 4 large pomegranates juiced)
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon orange flower water
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
1/2 ounce vodka, optional
In a medium saucepan, pour in pomegranate juice and sugar. Whisk and bring to a boil over high heat. Once at a boil, turn down the heat to a simmer and let simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until mixture is reduced by half. Remove from heat and add in orange flower water and pomegranate molasses. Whisk to fully combine and let cool to room temperature. Once cool, pour in vodka, if using (this would act as a preservative) and bottle in an airtight container. Store in a cool, dry place. If not using vodka, once bottled, store in the refrigerator up to one month.
The Shirley Temple Mocktail
3-4 ounces ginger ale or lemon-lime soda
1/2 ounce grenadine
maraschino cherry for garnish
In a collins glass, 2/3 filled with ice, pour in soda of choice. Top with grenadine and stir gently to combine. Garnish with a cherry.