Making cocktails at home can feel frustrating when you’re staring at a long ingredient list of things you don’t have on hand and aren’t in the mood to go shopping for. And who wants to spend money on a bottle that you might just end up using once?
But the truth is, many common cocktail syrups are easy to make from scratch, and there’s something satisfying about knowing you can have them—homemade—anytime you like.
Take grenadine. If you look at the ingredient list of the mass market versions commonly sold online and in shops, you might wonder: why do I need a syrup with artificial flavors and food dye? And the honest answer is, you don’t!
Grenadine at its most basic is a syrup made with pomegranates, sugar, and maybe an additional flavor or two for complexity. That’s all. And it comes together quickly with very little fussing in the kitchen, even if you want to juice your own pomegranates. Try it—I think you’ll like it!
Grenadine is a syrup made from the juice of pomegranates. It’s a nonalcoholic syrup that is mostly used in cocktails and nonalcoholic beverages. You can add an ounce of vodka to this recipe which will give your cocktail syrup a longer shelf life.
This homemade grenadine is a simple mixture of fresh pomegranate juice, sugar, pomegranate molasses, and orange flower water. The orange flower water does not, as the name may suggest, add an orange flavor to the syrup, but rather a floral hint that enhances the pomegranate notes.
How To Use Grenadine?
Grenadine is a feature in two famous drinks you’re bound to know.
The Shirley Temple, the ubiquitous kid’s drink—served to me at every function from weddings to family reunions when I was growing up—and the Tequila Sunrise, which derives its namesake color fade from the grenadine as it settles down through a glass of tequila laced orange juice.
However, if you’re looking to broaden your use, try it in a Hurricane, Pink Lady, Jack Rose, or Ward 8 cocktail.
History of Grenadine
Grenadine has been making the rounds at cocktail establishments since the late 1800s, but when you think of this pomegranate syrup it is typically associated with the bottle of Rose’s Grenadine owned by Canada Dry Mott’s Inc.
A noticeable difference with the modern commercial version is that it contains no actual fruit juice, just flavorings and additives. While you do get a technicolor pop of red, you lose quite a bit of the sweet-tart flavor that grenadine made with real pomegranate juice will give you.
To Juice or Not to Juice a Pomegranate
Pomegranates at my local grocery store have been very much hit or miss this past year—on several occasions, after I’ve sourced one, taken it home, and proceeded to juice it, I’ve encountered poor results.
When the pomegranate is good, you’ll get a great-tasting grenadine, but when it’s not, you begin to wonder if the effort was worth it. I totally understand if you’d rather not risk the heartbreak of a bad pomegranate. The cost! The work! The red stained fingers!
You can just grab yourself a high-quality pomegranate juice. I suggest Knudsen or POM Wonderful, which are both 100 percent pomegranate juice with no additives.
The biggest difference you’ll see when comparing a grenadine made with freshly squeezed pomegranates and one with bottled juice is the color. Bottled juice tends to be darker in color, while fresh is quite vivid.
How to Store, Where to Store, and How Long to Keep Homemade Grenadine
Grenadine should be kept refrigerated in an airtight container or swing top bottle. It’s best used within one month, if cold pressed and without the addition of vodka. Vodka can optionally be added to your grenadine to extend its shelf life to around 3 months, but I’d still keep that refrigerated.
Variations, Swaps or Substitutions
Orange flower water and pomegranate molasses are both listed as main ingredients in this recipe, but ultimately are optional if they prove hard to find.
The resulting grenadine won’t have quite the same pop, and may have a flatter, one-note quality, but will still be able to impart that sweet-tart pomegranate flavor to your drinks.
Cocktail Recipes to Try Next:
Easy Homemade Grenadine
- 2 cups pomegranate juice from 2-3 large pomegranates
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon orange flower water
- 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
- 1 ounce vodka, optional
Simmer pomegranate juice and sugar:
In a small saucepan, combine the pomegranate juice and sugar and whisk until dissolved. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, and then reduce the heat to medium-low so that you have a vigorous simmer. The liquid should have lots of little bubbles around the edges, but no big bubbles.
Simmer to reduce pomegranate liquid:
Continue to simmer until the mixture has reduced to about a third, there should be 1 2/3 cup of liquid remaining. This can take anywhere between 20 to 30 minutes, and the liquid should be viscous and have thickened to the consistency of honey.
Let grenadine cool to room temperature:
After the mixture has reduced, remove from the heat and let it come to room temperature. Stir in the orange flower water and pomegranate molasses. If using, also stir in the vodka.
Store the grenadine:
Pour the grenadine into an airtight container or swing top bottle. Store in the refrigerator for 1 to 3 months.