Seeing Red: Craft Grenadines
If you were reading along in a bar recipe book and as a third and fourth ingredient it read, "Three drops Red Dye #40, 1/2 oz. of Corn Syrup" you'd close the book and wing it from the balcony like a foam boommerang faster than I can say polypropylene.
Making good drinks requires chemistry, but not chemistry alone. Craft products and natural ingredients are reemerging at the forefront of an "ingredients matter" philosophy of bartending.
Chief among the mixers to take a death blow is none other than the chemical syrup itself, grenadine. The reason why is simple: Corn syrup and dye just don't belong in well crafted libations, even if it's the cornerstone of the number one selling children's "cocktail."
Let's start with the shocker for those of you who have yet to explore the outerdepths of the speed rail, past the peach brandy and green creme de menthe: grenadine is made from pomegranates. Or I should say, is supposed to be made from pomegranates. (The mass produced stuff rarely is.) In fact, "granada" is the Spanish word for pomegranate.
Fortunately, alternatives to the mass produced Bols and Dekuypers Grenadine exist and they actually contain pomegranates or pomegranate extract. Even better, I've drank them with such enduring cocktails as the Jack Rose and they're delicious.
For instance, there's Fee Brothers' American Beauty Grenadine. Fee Brothers also make several flavors of bitters, so it's no surprise to find them selling craft bar mixers. Presumably named after the cocktail of the same name, American Beauty is a little medicinal with a rich character.
Then there's my personal favorite, Stirrings Authentic Grenadine. It's the real deal. With a deep red color and satisfying sweetness, Stirrings Grenadine is so delicious you could have a Grenadine over ice with soda water.
So don't toss the recipe book yet. There's still hope for Grenadine.