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Homemade Grenadine Is Worth the Squeeze

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Grenadine has a long history and complicated legacy. Often mischaracterized as cloying, when made correctly, the non-alcoholic pomegranate sweetener is bright and balanced. It adds nuanced flavors and color to everything it touches, from classic whiskey and tequila cocktails to non-alcoholic drinks.

If you’re eager to separate the real McCoy from technicolored imposters, consider this your guide to grenadine, a criminally misunderstood ingredient.

What Is Grenadine?

Grenadine is a sweetener made of pomegranate juice, water and sugar. Alternatively, some bartenders add orange blossom water to their grenadine recipes, and others spike theirs with vodka. At its most essential, however, grenadine is a simple syrup that swaps some of its water for pomegranate juice.

According to drinks historian Camper English, “real grenadine from pomegranates was being made and sold in New York in 1872.” Its name is believed to derive from the French word for pomegranate, grenade.

There isn’t typically alcohol in grenadine, nor does it contain cherry syrup. The latter is a misperception that persists because some U.S. bartenders in the early 20th century tinted their drinks red with cherry juice or Maraschino liqueur, among other rosy-hued ingredients, in lieu of making an actual, pomegranate-based grenadine.

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