One of the disadvantages of living and drinking under the thumb of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board is that if the PLCB doesn’t carry it – short of taking up amateur rum running – you can’t get it. In this case, we’re talking about grenadine. Now it’s not that you can’t get grenadine, you’d actually be hard-pressed to find a PA liquor store that doesn’t stock it, but rather that every PA liquor store has the same grenadine.
Jacquin’s Cordials is a Philadelphia-based producer of bottom-shelf liquors and liqueurs, and the only brand the PLCB carries of several cocktail essentials, not least of which is grenadine. Theoretically, grenadine should be made from pomegranate juice (grenade is French for pomegranate) though even outside of Pennsylvania it can be tough to find a commercial grenadine that still is. These days most grenadine is like Jacquin’s: artificially flavored and over-sugared with so much corn syrup you could probably distill it into bourbon. Much like maraschino liqueur, grenadine is overdue for an artisanal back-to-basics overhaul.
But while we’re waiting for someone to launch that Kickstarter campaign, let’s take matters into our own hands with a bottle of homemade grenadine. Not long ago we found a recipe on Liquor.com that seemed simple enough. We’ve tweaked it a little, both for ease of production and because we couldn’t find orange blossom water anywhere. The result is a far cry from anything we’ve found commercially and, we think, much improved. We’ll probably continue to fool around with the recipe a bit, and you should do the same. In fact, we may never buy grenadine again.
2 cups pomegranate juice (either fresh-squeezed or bottled)
2 cups sugar
2 oz pomegranate molasses
1 0z vodka (optional)
Measure the pomegranate juice into a saucepan over low heat. Add the sugar and stir constantly until it’s entirely dissolved. Then add the molasses and vodka, stir briefly, and allow to cool. Once cooled, bottle your grenadine and add the peel of around 1/4 of an orange. Because you will someday have to get that orange peel out of the bottle, I recommend using a channel knife which gives you long thin strips of peel. Also, the vodka is optional. Not all grenadine contains alcohol, but the vodka will extend your grenadine’s shelf life.