Exploration Series: Grenadine Challenge, Five Brands, Two Mouths

Today we explore five brands of grenadine to see how they play on the palate then we build five Shirley Temple mocktails to see how they play in our childhood drink. Of course, if you just can’t shake your childhood legacy version of the Shirley Temple, you’re probably going to fall back to Rose’s Grenadine.

However, if you want to try some grenadines that have a bit more flavorful experiences, a bit less manufactured sugars, you may want to expand your grenadine options. Today, we took a look at Fee Brothers American Beauty Grenadine, which still contains a bit more of those manufactured sugars (although none are High Fructose Corn Syrup) but the Red #40 and Blue #1 give this syrup the bright flavor you’d expect from a grenadine. This grenadine will sink down to the bottom of your cocktails and mocktails and allow you to layer your drinks or build that “sunrise effect.” Although none of the ingredients list “pomegranate”, the bright color and sweet thick texture matches most people’ expectations of a grenadine.

Next on our list, Stirrings Authentic Grenadine, which is contrary to the typical expectation of grenadine “today”, but fits the bill of grenadine most likely created during the first age of cocktails (pre-prohibition) as it contains only the most basic and natural ingredients–this is a pomegranate simple syrup by design. The three primary ingredients being water, cane sugar and pomegranate juice, the term “authentic grenadine” makes perfect sense. It will perform well in a classic cocktail but may fall short in a Shirley Temple as it’s just too light and watery (containing no ‘gum arabic’ or thickening agent). You’ll also want to store it in the fridge between uses as it’s got only natural preservatives.

Third on the list is Liber & Co Real Grenadine and, yes, as the name suggests this is another “real” grenadine. Again, we land on a short ingredient list with pomegranate, cane sugar, gum arabic and, in this case, orange blossom water (which is something you’ll find in a lot of homemade recipes.) Liber & Co. grenadine has a lot of authentic earthy like flavor that goes slightly beyond just pomegranate and sugar flavor. This is no doubt why Liber & Co lands on so many bloggers top list for syrups. Liber is thicker and should do well in a cocktail that needs layering but tends to be more pomegranate color as opposed to fake like Red #40.

Last but not least, Jack Rudy Small Batch Grenadine! This kickstarter program turned real product generates another real grenadine with authenticity–a team much like Liber & Co, passionate about recreating some of the best. The ingredient list is similar to Liber & Co as well, orange blossom water along side the cane sugar, pomegranate juice and water. There are natural preservatives and colors of pomegranate but Jack Rudy does something the others did not do, bring a sweet and tart with a dry finish. Jack Rudy closely resembles eating pomegranate seeds as they are also a tart little fruit. The sweetness balances out the tart and will work great in those classic cocktails.

In many ways, each grenadine we tasted has its own unique properties and flavor (and color) and all beat the high fructose saturated Rose’s brand–unless you count cost. You’ll pay a bit more for a real grenadine but quality always comes with a price. I’ll pay a price for quality because quality products make quality cocktails and I love a nice quality cocktail. You may want to select a few and see which one you love best as grenadine, unlike a cocktail bitter, goes quite a bit faster ounce-by-ounce so you’ll get your money’s worth!

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