Courtesy of Clio
For many, “grenadine” conjures memories of fluorescent and syrupy sweet Shirley Temples or the saccharin flavors of a Tequila Sunrise, but bartenders are now righting the syrup’s reputation by making their own, nuanced grenadines in-house.
The name comes from grenades, the French word for the pomegranates, which were juiced and mixed with sugar to create the vibrantly red fruit-based syrup that became a popular addition to pre-Prohibition cocktails. Today’s commercial products have little in common with the original. “Grenadine as a kid was really not grenadine—that stuff was basically sugar water with red dye in it,” says Todd Maul, the head bartender at star chef Ken Oringer's Clio restaurant in Boston. Maul, like many detail-oriented mixologists, makes grenadine from scratch. His recipe is simple: equal parts sugar and Pom (because “it would be crushingly awful to juice a pomegranate”) that's lightly flavored with orange flower and rose water.
Maul notes that fake grenadine has been around almost as long as the bar essential itself, quoting Gentleman’s Companion to Food and Liquor, a classic cocktail book published in 1939: "No bar regardless of its modesty can be without it. Don’t be fooled by inferior American imitations of the real thing, be sure to get the imported.”