Grenadine Tasting

Among the many things that it’s easy to perceive about Tiki is the use of tons of syrups and juices. Of course, the Tiki masters make or squeeze all of their own. Now, I am the master of the shortcut, so don’t count on me making all my own stuff, but I am going to make a bunch of things, and squeeze where and when I can. I still make no promises about orange juice, Tiare.
What I will do is start with something I know a bit about, and have posted on before, just to get my feet wet: Grenadine.
Grenadine is of course used in all realms of cocktail making, not just Tiki. But what is it?
Well, it is supposed to be sweetened pomegranate syrup. In practice, commercial grenadines are by and large just high-fructose corn syrup with red food coloring and flavoring agents. Now, all good cocktail snobs today are required by CSOWG guidelines to stick our noses up at such red syrups and make crabby noises about the good old days. But we should probably just shut up, since I’ve been told by none other than keeper of the cocktail section of the Library of Alexandria, Greg Boehm of Mud Puddle Books, that bars were commonly making grenadine with red food coloring and sugar syrup as early as 1910.
That said, real, homemade grenadine beats up fake grenadine and takes its lunch money every morning before school.
In the past, I always made my grenadines with Lakewood pomegranate juice, which is not from concentrate. The resulting syrup has always tasted great, but lacked in color. I noticed that lots of my more experienced colleagues use Pom brand pomegranate juice. This is juice from concentrate, and I was curious as to the difference it would make. To load up for Tiki month, I made a batch each of Paul’s hot process and cold process grenadines. (Recipes here, at Cocktail Chronicles)
I don’t know for sure, but I suspect that Pom does not reconstitute its juice at natural water levels, but instead leaves the juice highly concentrated. The resulting grenadines were much darker and more traditionally colored than my previous efforts. But how did they taste?
I went to my grenadine experts, and asked my daughters Katherine and Lexi to belly up to the bar in the Pegu Lounge for Shirley Temples. I told them I was testing two different ways to make grenadine, and asked if they would tell me which was better. I labeled the two drinks C and H, but didn’t tell them why. Before I could go any farther, my elder daughter whipped out her little metal notebook and made two sections for notes! After trying the two drinks and comparing, these are the notes she produced:
If you don’t read seven-year-old, I’ll translate:

C: Brighter
H: Darker
Sends a mint taste at the end.

For the record, I don’t take notes myself when tasting things. I discuss and write down my ideas well afterward. (If I can’t remember an impression for at least a half an hour, it ain’t worth recording) Where my daughter got the idea to do tasting notes from is a mystery. I think she invented the concept on her own….
Oh, and as is typical, Lexi likes the cold process stuff, while Katherine insists that the hot made syrup is superior. They are going to have to work it out between them, because I am not making two batches of grenadine all the time!


  1. Rick

    17 February

    Doug, I’m so proud of you for making your own syrups. But you don’t squeeze your own orange juice? Does that mean you’re also not squeezing your own grapefruit? I was making this mistake as recently as early last year, and boy a mistake it was. Tiki drinks, especially, are so much fresher. Just -do it-.

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  2. Doug

    17 February

    Oh, I absolutely squeeze my one grapefruit.
    I think the difference is that I am new to grapefruit.
    I have spent virtually all my life drinking concentrate,or later in life, carton orange juice.
    Whenever I do get true fresh squeezed OJ, I actually seldom like it! It is too rich and sweet.
    Weird, but there it is.

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  3. BonzoGal

    3 March

    Doug, try squeezing fresh oj and then straining it through a fine-mesh strainer. Seriously, it can make a difference. My brother-in-law will only drink fresh OJ if the pulp and such are strained out.

    Me, I like the pulp, but I like drinks I can chew, too.

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  4. mick

    28 June

    Hi Doug:

    Enjoyed your pomegranate runthrough.. I wanted to echo your comment about Lakewood.. A few months ago, when I first started making my own Grenadine, I encountered quite the self-education (one of my favorite parts of cocktailing), looking for “the best pomegranate juice” (excluding, I must admit, hand-squeezed). My surprise was that Lakewood was the ONLY one that I could find that claimed to be “not-from-concentrate.” Including POM. For less money. So I’ve used it exclusively. But I’m preparing to try something new as my current stock of Grenadine runs down..

    So my question to you then, is what’s your opinion (months later now) of POM vs. Lakewood?



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  5. mick

    28 June

    oh, also: I’m going to add your blog to the google search engine that I built for cocktail-ish things. If you want to bookmark and use it, be my guest!

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  6. Doug

    29 June


    Full Disclosure: POM sent me some of their juice to try.
    Second Full Disclosure: I really need to find something other than grenadine to make with it so I can give it a full post.
    That said, I’m making my grenadine with POM, rather than Lakewood now. It is richer, darker, and more concentrated in flavor than the Lakewood. I thought that this was due to POM being reconstituted at a concentrated level but this is not the case.
    The resulting grenadine is more flavorful, and much more visually appealing.

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  7. mick

    29 June

    Thanks for the details! Intriguing and diplomatic, you are! 😉

    There’s a lot to be said for the visual appeal.. I have been using a measure of red food coloring to “punch up” the Lakewood grenadine concoction.. It’s a little on the brown side.. I’d actually love to see my Scofflaw variation with a rosier profile! (ha)


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