April 5, 2009

As Columbo and Steve Jobs so often said, "Oh, one more thing..."

It just occurred to me, as such things tend do at 1:30 AM, that while I've repeatedly mentioned that you should use homemade grenadine whenever possible, I've neglected to give you any idea how to make it. Oops!

There's two routes that I've taken to get to homemade grenadine. One is super-easy and the other is slightly less easy but more complex in terms of flavor. Both are very good.

Option 1:

Get a 16 ounce bottle of pure pomegranate juice. Pour it into a non-reactive pot on the stove. Bring to a boil. Add 8 ounces of cane sugar. Cook until volume is reduced by about 1/2 and the liquid coats the back of a spoon (it'll look uncannily like cough syrup...just go with it) Let the mixture cool and add an ounce of vodka before bottling as a preservative. Keep it in the fridge.

Option 2:

Get two fresh pomegranates, quarter them, and remove their seeds (this is best done in a bowl of water, as the seeds will float out and the peel will sink). While you're separating the pips from the peel, bring 16 ounces of water to a boil and add 8 ounces of cane sugar. Heat until it thickens a bit, then add the pomegranate pips. Simmer for 10 minutes, pressing on the seeds with a wooden spoon to try to get them to release their juice, then remove from heat and let sit for two hours. Strain through a fine metal sieve, again pressing on the seeds with a wooden spoon. Strain that liquid through cheesecloth (just to be certain you've got all solids out) then add an ounce of vodka as a preservative and bottle.

The two versions turn out to be different, but both very good. Option one gives you a thick, deep purple liquid that's very heavily flavored. Option two returns a pale pink liquid that's rather more subtly flavored, but still packs a punch. I like the second one in particular because you get some flavors from the seeds that you don't get from straight-up pomegranate juice. Both are very good additions to the home bar, though. Vastly better than Rose's Grenadine, which is naught more than sugar (usually in the form of high-fructose corn syrup), water, thickening agents, and red dye. Not exactly what Jerry Thomas or the bartenders at the Waldorf envisioned when mixing up drinks with grenadine.

Try that in your next Tequila Sunrise (or Shirley Temple) and see if it's not a huge improvement over what you're used to.


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