Grenadine in Practice: Tequila Sunset

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One of the most common uses of grenadine is to add some showy coloration to a beverage.  The strong red color of the syrup and its thicker texture allows it to perform well in most juices, many liquors and in their combination.

The Tequila Sunset is a pretty simple drink

2 oz Silver Tequila
4 oz Orange Juice
3/4 oz Grenadine Syrup

Shake the tequila and juice in a shaker with ice, strain into a glass.  Slowly drizzle the syrup into the drink so that it settles and disperses through the bottom of the drink.

What you’re left with is a very nice blending of color from the yellow to dark red at the bottom.  Thinner grenadine doesn’t do this well and those heavy in dyes tend to color too well leaving the drink a kind of muddy brown color.

Well made, you can sip this slowly and enjoy the change as the syrup slowly increases in concentration.  Unless you’re using fresh squeezed OJ the citrus flavor is going to be tart and bland.  The grenadine also helps to add some character to the drink overall as well as to help mask any alcohol you might taste from using cheaper Tequila.

I used sparkle donkey for this one, and I’m not disappointed.  It has a very strong nose, which isn’t ideal here but the flavor is still mellow and smooth.

 

Make Your Own: Grenadine

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Further efforts in my loving quest to bring everyone the benefits of self-produced mixers abound.

Aside from fruit juice one of the most popular mixers for various cocktails is Grenadine.  Many of you may not be familiar with this mixer, I know because I’ve had at least three people say “What’s Grenadine” when I mention working on this article.

 

 

 

Grenadine comes from the french word Grenade, which means pomegranate.  Pomegranate is actually a concatenation of the words for apple and seeds.  Long way to go linguistically to get to this one but at least it makes sense.  Grenadine is a syrup made principally of pomegranate juice and sugar.

 

 

What is shocking is the quantity of grenadine brands on the market that don’t actually contain pomegranate juice.  Most of them are water, corn syrup and red dye.  This rather bland conversion has taken place over a number of years.  The quantity and potency of the red dye has grown somewhat more important than the flavor and you will find grenadine in a number of drinks where presentation paramount but where you might not expect pomegranate flavor to be important.

 

 

 

 

 

The revival of cocktail culture has caused a resurgence of good grenadine on the market.  Fee brothers and Stirrings both make an excellent bottled version.  Fee brothers is about $11 for 4oz.  The stirrings can be had for about $6 for 12oz.  From personal experience the stirrings is not very thick.  It’s plenty sweet and has a good flavor but it’s watery.  It is made from pomegranate concentrate, “natural flavors”, and is colored with “fruit and vegetable juice”.  If you look on the back of the bottle it actually says 30% juice, which means that the rest is probably water.

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I’ve never been steered wrong with a fee brothers product but still, $2.75 an ounce is a bit more than I’d like to pay.

Now unlike many of my previous MYO’s this is one that I can’t 100% recommend.  The primary reason for that is that one of the principal ingredients is only marginally useful outside of this one instance and can be a bit expensive.

Grenadine:
1 – 16oz bottle Pom Wonderful (pomegranate Juice) [$4]
1 cup baker’s sugar [$0.75]
1-2 dashes Orange Flower Water [$0.32]

The last ingredient here, despite being one of the smallest is the tricky one.  Orange flower water is an alcohol based tincture of orange blossoms.  I looked into this carefully because it would normally be a simple matter to make some of my own an avoid a trip to the store.  But it appears that the type of blossoms used in most orange flower water products are Seville oranges or some other verity, and there do not appear to be any places where one can buy orange blossoms, either fresh or dried.

 

Further it appears that the extract is actually removed from the blossoms via distillation process.  Which requires a still and the wherewithal to use it.

 

Lacking ingredients and equipment we are left with the option to buy.  The brand that I was able to find quickly was Nielsen-Massey Orange Blossom Water which runs $8 for 2 oz.  A dash is about a 1/6 tsp or 1/48th of an ounce so we’re using about $0.32 worth for this run.

Orange flower water comes in a lot of different types.  Again Fee brothers offers 4oz for $10, many other brands are out there but I’m not familiar enough with the companies to speak with any authority.  I’ve seen brands that run about a dollar an ounce but who knows what kind of quality you’re going to see.  I’ve heard tell of expensive small batch versions but wasn’t able to find any links or prices.

Much like simple syrup you’ll want to start by adding the liquid to a saucepan.  I recommend something a bit deeper as you’re using a lot more liquid.  Start a medium heat and slowly add the sugar, stirring to allow it to dissolve.

Heat the juice up to a boil, then cover and simmer for about 20 minutes.  You can use a spoon dipped into the syrup to see how thick it’s getting, just look how well the back of the spoon is coated.  As the water boils off it will become thicker, but keep in mind that while hot it will be thinner than it is once cool so leave it a bit looser than you want it to finish.

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Once you’ve got the consistency you want, remove it from the heat and allow it to cool.  Pour the syrup into a carafe, jug, flask, or squeeze bottle.  Add the orange flower water, seal tightly and shake well.  Then chill.

You’re going to wind up with slightly less than 16 oz of total syrup for a bit more than $5.  Fee brothers would cost you over $40 for a similar amount.

Like all the syrups we have made so far this one has a shorter shelf life than what you’ll get in the store.  You can keep this for a couple of weeks in the fridge, longer if you add a few tablespoons of vodka to the bottle.

Properly thick this stuff is great on ice cream, Italian soda, yogurt, tea, oatmeal and numerous cocktails.  The orange flower water is right up front and at first you’ll think it’s going to be bitter.  The sweetness is actually more from the pomegranate juice which is both rich and not cloying.

Fancy drinks to follow.