The One Ingredient That Will Punch Up Your Holiday Bar

For something a little special on New Year's Eve.

December 30, 2018
Photo by Ty Mecham

Welcome to Nifty, Gifty Holidays, our guide for all the little, magical ways we make the season sparkle. Today, we’re getting ready to ring in the New Year with a simple but special cocktail.

If you're like me, you prefer to stay in on New Year's Eve. In New York City especially, pricey restaurant menus and crowded bars are far less appealing than house parties or cozy get-togethers at home. But not going out can sometimes feel not really special. Over the years, I've landed on a few reliable ways to make any casual gathering (even just for two) still feel fun and celebratory. Really good snacks is one way—think deviled eggs, pigs in blankets, cheesy dips—but you probably could've guessed that. Games is another (a few faves: Catch Phrase, Joking Hazard, Codenames, Five Crowns, and charades, of course.) And a fancy drink is the last. Wine, beer, and straight liquor are solid bar standbys, but having a punch or a signature cocktail is a nice way to make any evening feel a little out of the ordinary. My go-to is usually a punch—it's large format, so there's very little to do after you make it, and an ice ring always impresses. But this year I'm going with something different—and you only need one ingredient to make it.

After seeing director of partner content Cory Baldwin's brilliant boiled apple cider number back in October, it made me wonder if there was a way to create something similar for winter (not that boiled apple cider and whiskey wouldn't work for winter too). Which got me to this beautiful, jammy pomegranate syrup.

Kind of like grenadine but not, this "recipe" isn't much of a recipe at all—it's just pomegranate juice. There's no citrus peel or spices or added sugar. You just boil the juice down, down, down until it's syrupy and go from there. It's sweet and it's tart and it would probably go just as well in a vinaigrette as it would in a cocktail.

This New Year's Eve I'll mix it with some Prosecco for a "Pom Fizz," but I plan on keeping a jar of it in the fridge to shake up with bourbon or vodka, or to stir into some seltzer with a squeeze of lime.

What your go-to New Year's Eve drink? Tell us in the comments!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Terri
  • Mark Hooper
    Mark Hooper


Terri December 31, 2018
Concentrated syrups are a bartender’s best friend. Can’t wait to try this one with some quality pomegranate juice - thanks!
I made a fresh cranberry syrup this year (quite a delicate act as it can become jellied cranberry sauce if cooked too quickly). I used it to make some fabulous Cosmopolitans with fresh squeezed lime, Cointreau and Absolute Citron. Happy New Year!
Mark H. December 30, 2018
Why do you need an “easy pomegranate syrup” when a person can just purchase a well made Grenadine and achieve the same flavor profile? You can say this isn’t the same as Grenadine, but it actually is. You are boiling the juice down to a consistency that isn’ t far off of the viscosity of pomegranate molasses/syrup, a primary ingredient to many well made Grenadines.

Or, if someone wants to fashion their own flavor, rather than purchase something off of the shelf, this recipe (to follow) will create a more full bodied Grenadine, which is simply Pomegranate simple syrup. The difference? This recipe will create a product with a beautiful floral and fruity nose (40% of tasting is suggested and shaped through the nose and/or scent of a prodcut, just prior to taking a sip). So, rather than cooking anything, just follow these easy steps...and flavor to your own palate preference.

Mark’s Grenadine
8 oz - Pomegranate Juice
1 cup - Superfine/Baker’s Sugar (optional for sweetness of Grenadine)
2 oz - Pomegranate Molasses
3 TSP - Orange Flower Water
1 oz - Vodka

Mix pomegranate juice and sugar in mason jar (or capped bottle) and shake until dissolved. Add pomegranate molasses and shake well. Add flower water and vodka, shake a third time and chill. Voila!!!