Ever wondered what grenadine -- that bright-red, syrupy staple of every bar/restaurant and key ingredient in a Tequila Sunrise -- actually consists of? It never occurred to me that it was anything else than a slightly fruity, red syrup until I started attempting to mix my own drinks. Many cocktail recipe books provide a recipe for a home-made grenadine, explaining that -- in the same way that Aunt Jemima is worlds apart from a small-batch, Vermont-made maple syrup -- "true" grenadine blows the artificially-flavored, corn syrup-filled, familiar bottle of grenadine out of the water (see photo below).
First-off, some background. The main ingredient in grenadine is pomegranate. In fact, in French, 'grenade' means 'pomegranate.' When you mix pomegranate juice and sugar you get...grenadine! It's really that simple, which is why I decided to make my own small batch this past week.
As a maple syrup snob, this concept appealed to me and seemed doable. I decided to follow a pretty straightforward recipe I found within a book of cocktail recipes, entitled:Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails with a Literary Twist (Tim Federle). The recipe called for equal parts pomegranate juice (I used Langer's) and sugar. Then, you simply heat up the juice and stir in the sugar until it dissolves. This recipe also instructs you to boil your mixture for five minutes -- or until the mixture is reduced by half -- to create a thicker, more syrupy substance. I actually found that doing this last step made my batch overly thick and so when I went to try and make a Tequila Sunrise, my grenadine sank directly to the bottom without even the slightest bit of mixing in with the cocktail (which you want, in order to create that sunrise effect).
I found another recipe that recommends against boiling and actually advises that you squeeze your own pomegranate juice.
Despite the thicker-than-desired consistency of my first attempt at home-made grenadine syrup, I can safely say that home-made grenadine is sooo much better than your average bottle and it's going to be hard for me to ever go back to the fake stuff....
Whatever you decide to go with, here's a recipe for the classic drink, the tequila sunrise:
Combine, in an ice-filled glass:
3 ounces Orange Juice
1.5 ounces Tequila Blanco/Joven (clear)
.5 ounce grenadine*
*which will sink to the bottom of the glass and -- hopefully -- create a nice layering or "sunrise."