Finding a good grenadine

Like maraschino cherries, modern grenadine isn’t what it used to be. The original product was colored and flavored with pomegranate juice. These days, it tends to be high-fructose corn syrup colored with FD&C Red #40, and flavored with … well, flavored with not much of anything, to be honest (my bottle of Giroux “Premium Quality” Grenadine Syrup also mentions citric acid, sodium benzoate and “natural fruit flavors”). It doesn’t add anything to a cocktail except color and a cloying sweetness.

Stirrings has a pomegranate grenadine, but it’s not a good substitute. It does contain real pomegranate, but it isn’t red enough to give your drink any more than an anemic salmon tinge, and, although I hate to say this, it isn’t sweet enough. Drink recipes that call for grenadine take the sweetness into consideration, and if you use a product that’s a lot less sweet, the drink won’t be any good. I’ve tried increasing the amount, but haven’t been able to come up with a solution that’s right. And even with double the amount, Stirrings grenadine, though a nice product in its own right, won’t color the drink properly.

Fortunately, I’ve found a solution. Monin pomegranate syrup! This is available at the fancier grocery stores like Whole Foods, among other places. It’s intensely red in color. You can tell it’s in there by looking at the drink. It’s sweet, but not too sweet. And it adds a delicious hint of pomegranate flavor, which will usually go very nicely with whatever drink you’ve added it to (assuming it’s a drink that calls for grenadine, that is; I wouldn’t go adding it to your dry martini).

Unlike Giroux “Premium Grenadine Syrup”, Monin contains actual pomegranate juice along with the natural flavors and citric acid. So does Stirrings, for that matter. I’m not sure why the flavor and color of Monin syrup are so much better; maybe Monin concentrates their fruit juice more. Another thing that Monin and Stirrings have in common is the use of real sugar, from sugar cane, instead of corn syrup. There’s a lot of anecdotal evidence suggesting that sugar tastes better than corn syrup (people who swear by Kosher for Passover Coca-Cola, for instance). Though in Giroux’s case, I suspect the disappointing taste has more to do with the lack of anything approximating real fruit, than with high-fructose corn syrup.

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12 Responses to Finding a good grenadine

  1. Kira says:

    I just made my own simple syrup tonight flavored with mint to go in a mango sorbet. Mangos were on sale!! I don’t know if that kind of thing works in drinks though.

  2. Kristin says:

    That sounds really good! You can definitely use flavored simple syrups in a cocktail. A lot of cocktails call for plain simple syrup, especially the ones with fresh lemon or lime juice, since they need some sweetening, and sugar doesn’t dissolve well in ice-cold liquid. Mint goes really well with anything that has lime (think mojitos!).

    I once made a lavender simple syrup that was very nice.

  3. Phil says:

    Monin is better than average but I do not like the citrus oil after taste or the cooked flavor
    Perfect Puree Fresh frozen Pomegranate 200% concentrate (Available on Amazon) makes the best.Grenadine.

    Just defrost and slowly stir in bakers sugar until you have a thick syrup. A small amount of ascorbic acid should be added and you can pour it in a clean sterile empty bottle.
    Stores in the fridge for a few months. use with fresh limes/lemons and you will never go back

  4. Aaron says:

    Why not add it to a dry (Vodka) martini? might be yummy!

  5. John says:

    You don’t have to wait for Passover for sugar-sweetened Coke! If you’ve a Latin market at your disposal, you’re likely to find Mexican Coke, in glass bottles. Pure cane sugar sweetness.

  6. Donald says:

    Congrats on the Instalanche by the way. Since I don’t think you have a webcounter, you probably haven’t noticed that several hundred people have read this post. Oddly, I got an Instalanche today too.

  7. Crazy Uncle Mark says:

    Alton Brown did a pomegranate syrup on Good Eats not too long ago, basically calling it grenadine.(which he then proceeded to make tequila sunrises with)

    Another thing I’ve found adds a nice bit of flavor and color is to use Raw sugar to make your simple syrup.

    good post & congrat’s on the Instalanche!

  8. Kristin says:

    I did try using raw sugar in a simple syrup once, and you’re right, it was quite nice! Honey can also be good, although it’s flavorful enough that it can really change the drink.

    All these syrups (sugar or honey) are also great for non-alcoholic drinks, if you want to make fresh lemonade or limeade without having half an inch of undissolved sugar sediment at the bottom of the glass. Though I think the Monin syrup is too acidic to mix directly with sour citrus juice, unless you’re also adding a plain syrup. (I don’t know about the homemade pomegranate syrups–thanks for the recipes and links to recipes, by the way!–but since Monin syrup has enough acidity to be mixed with sparkling water and nothing else, it has too much to serve as the only sweetener in a lemonade. At least for my taste. And I don’t have much of a sweet tooth.)

  9. salimah says:

    brilliant thanks for this…

  10. James says:

    I can’t believe I never noticed Monin pomegranate syrup, I love pomegranate and I love Monin, silly me!

  11. Barbara says:

    We have been using the Giroux Grenadine for generations. I remember my grandfather preparing for us kids a Shirley Temple using the Giroux (Over 60 years ago…). Now I do the same with our grand kids as Giroux is the only Grenadine I trust and always like the taste. It has been around for over 100! years.

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