Today: A wholesome, 4-ingredient DIY grenadine for better drinks at home -- plus a gutsy technique for juicing a pomegranate without seeding first. This one's for you, Shirley.
I bet just about every one of us has happy childhood memories of Shirley Temples; of sweet, sharp fizz and glee; of feeling both childish and adult; of coveting cherries. There were never enough cherries.
How sad that none of the ingredients live up to our adult standards -- literally not a one: ginger ale or 7-up, maraschinos the color of your 80s culottes, and tinted high fructose corn syrup masquerading as grenadine. Did you know grenadine is supposed to be pomegranate syrup, after grenade, the French word for the fruit? Neither did I.
So if you knew how outrageously easy it is to make your own -- real, delicious, pomegranate -- grenadine, you'd be drinking a lot more Shirley Temples. And pink, but classy, cocktails. Maybe even Tequila Sunrises. (No? Okay.)
This recipe comes from Jeffery Morgenthaler -- one of the best mixologists (and drinks bloggers) in the country -- and has 4 ingredients. You could have made it just now instead of reading the last 3 paragraphs (sorry).
"I developed the recipe in response to what I saw as so many other bartenders over-thinking the syrup and using all sorts of bizarre ingredients, strange techniques, and other odd methods," Morgenthaler told me.
There are a couple ways to go about it. At the low-investment end of the spectrum, you can buy a bottle of 100% pomegranate juice.
Then making grenadine is only a matter of warming up the juice, stirring in some raw sugar, pomegranate molasses, and orange flower water -- which, if your pantry is well-stocked, you probably already have. If not, hit up Whole Foods, your local Middle Eastern market, or the internet.
If you want to go even more DIY, you can juice your own pomegranates. There are a number of ways you can do this -- but most involve plucking the arils from their spongy catacombs first, then blending and straining. As Louisa Shafia writes in The New Persian Kitchen, "The successful accomplishment of this operation is a topic shrouded in mystery and confusion."
Instead, you can do as Morgenthaler does, and just juice the whole lot in your juicer -- if it fits a half a grapefruit, it fits a half a pomegranate.
Some arils will fall away unbreached, but just pass it all through a strainer, crushing any lingering juice out with the back of a sturdy spoon. Put on an apron (or wear black) to be safe, but juicing a halved pomegranate is surprisingly contained.
Choose your juicing method depending on your constitution and what sorts of kitchen chores you like best. (And if you don't like any, revisit option 1 above.) I'd rather mash fruit and watch a river of juice stream out than get out my blender; you might feel differently.
That's it -- you have homemade grenadine. Stir it into sparkling water, pour it over ice cream and yogurt and cake, explore your bar.
It would take longer to walk down the aisle in the liquor store to find bad grenadine than it does to make the good stuff from scratch. And you will have a batch that will last you for a very long time, unless you have a household that's particularly fiendish for Zombie Punch.
Put the rest in your fridge. Stock up on cherries.
Adapted slightly from Jeffrey Morgenthaler
Makes about 1 quart
2 cups fresh pomegranate juice (two to four large pomegranates) or 100% pomegranate juice like POM Wonderful
2 cups unbleached sugar
2 fluid ounces (1/4 cup) pomegranate molasses
1 teaspoon orange blossom water
Got a genius recipe to share -- from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at email@example.com. Thanks to Food52er rsimpson3 for this one!
Photos by James Ransom