Everything you know about grenadine is a lie

by Justin D'Olier on February 25, 2011 | (2) Comments |

I just spent $20 on a bottle of grenadine. Yes, grenadine. The neon red syrup used to make a Roy Rogers or a Shirley Temple. Even worse, I already have a bottle of grenadine in my cupboard. Unopened. Only, it’s not real grenadine. I always thought it was. In fact, I spent 30 years blissfully unaware that the fluorescent red Rose’s cherry flavored syrup poured into countless number of Roy Rogers was not, in fact, real grenadine, nor was it cherry flavored.

Excuse me while I pick up the pieces of my skull.


This is not grenadine

Grenadine is – or at least should be – a simple syrup made with a base of sugar and pomegranates. I always thought it was a cherry syrup because the luminous hue matched the color of maraschino cherries, which typically garnish a Roy Rogers, and a Rogers is often described as a “Cherry Coke”. If, however, I had actually looked at a bottle of Rose’s Grenadine, the ubiquitous glaringly red syrup that has an effective monopoly on the United States grenadine market, I would have seen a picture of two yellow, juicy pomegranates.

Holy destroyed childhood dreams, Batman.

Unfortunately, Rose’s grenadine is as much pomegranate syrup as it is cherry syrup, which is to say not at all. The ingredients are: high fructose corn syrup, water, citric acid, natural and unnatural flavors, preservatives, and dye. Nary a fruit to be found. It bears more resemblance, in both color and flavor, to Robitussin than simple syrup infused with pomegranate.

And I need syrup infused with pomegranate.

I’m currently reading “How’s Your Drink”, a novel about cocktails, culture and the art of drinking well by New York Times columnist Eric Felten, and stumbled across a recipe for the Bacardi Cocktail (white rum, fresh lime juice & grenadine), a libation that threatened to unseat the Martini as the king of cocktails in the 1930’s. As a connoisseur of history and getting drunk (for historical research purposes, of course), I had to try it. The only problem was, I didn’t have any grenadine. I thought I had grenadine, but I didn’t. I only had a bottle of shockingly ruddy, chemically enhanced sweetener.

So, per Mr. Felten’s recommendation, I purchased a bottle of Pomegranate Simple Syrup #8 (aka grenadine) from the Sonoma Syrup company for $12.95 plus $9.95 shipping and handling. Yes, I paid almost as much to ship my syrup as I did for the syrup itself. This cocktail better be good.

When it arrives, I’ll give a full report on the what twenty dollars of syrup can buy. Until then, I’ll leave you with a recipe for a Bacardi Supreme – a Bacardi Cocktail variant – which, sadly, you can’t make, because you don’t have any grenadine.

1 1/2 oz Bacardi white rum
3/4 oz gin
Juice of 1/2 lime
2 teaspoons grenadine

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon peel or lime. Enjoy the sanguine goodness of $20 syrup.

2 responses to “Everything you know about grenadine is a lie”

  1. Bob Duck says:

    I must say, that is the best caption I have seen on this site yet. I would write LOL, but it would only seem to detract from the fact that I actually did laugh out rather loudly.