What Is Grenadine?
Grenadine is a simple pomegranate syrup, and it originated in Persia (modern-day Iran), where it is called Rob-e-anar and is a traditional ingredient in some Persian dishes. In Persian cooking, it is boiled down to a molasses-like thickness, but when used in cocktails, the thinner syrup viscosity mixes easier. The word grenadine comes from the French word for pomegranate, grenade. During the 19th century, pomegranate syrup was mainly unknown in the United States, yet syrups made from raspberries and strawberries were much more common in drinks. Grenadine starts to get popular as a cocktail ingredient in the US around the 20th century. Some of the first grenadine cocktails appear in George Kappeler’s (Of the New York’s Holland House Hotel) 1895 Modern American Drinks and Louis Fouquet’s 1896 Bariana. Grenadine most likely started as a European syrup that quickly made its way to the United States and by the 1910s became a much more common syrup in mixed drinks. It’s around this time that cocktails like the Jack rose and ward 8 come about. Regional variations of some drinks still exist, though; these result from Americans having a long history of using raspberry or strawberry syrups. For example, the rose cocktail in American cocktail books often used raspberry syrup, and English cocktail books used grenadine. Another example is the clover club cocktail, wherein the United States is made with raspberry syrup, but in English books like the savoy, it’s made with grenadine.
Should You Buy Grenadine Or Make It?
Always make your own syrups unless it’s gum syrup, tonic syrup, or orgeat. Gum and orgeat you can make, but it is just a pain in the butt and tonic I would never make from scratch. Grenadine is super easy to make, cheap to make and results in a much better product. The recipe below is a standard grenadine recipe, but an ounce of pomegranate molasses adds richness to the syrup.
If you don’t have orange blossom water, that’s fine, but it adds a fantastic flavor and aroma to the syrup. Its importance shouldn’t be understated, but don’t let not having it keep you from making your own. Pomegranate juice and sugar are good, but it is traditional to add orange blossom water. Remember, grenadine originated from the Middle East as a culinary ingredient, and orange blossom water is also a common ingredient in Persian cooking. If you want to make a grenadine that tastes similar to what early French and English mixologists were using, add a little orange blossom water. If middle eastern markets are not common in your area, order them online. It’s worth it.