Thursday, November 06, 2008

Pomegranate is the new Grenadine

I'm into tiki drinks and other rum concoctions in a big way these days, and during my explorations I've stumbled across any number of recipes that call for grenadine.

I don't think I've ever owned a bottle of grenadine before this summer. It was always something I remembered from my restaurant days as what we mixed with Sprite to make Shirley Temples. And we used non-alcoholic Blue Curacao syrup to make Smurfs, too, another kid classic. Do restaurants still get orders for those these days? When I was in college, going out for dinner was still a big enough event for families that they would want to order the kids something "special" from the bar. These days, a restaurant meal is more routine than a homecooked meal for many children, and soft drinks far more common than milk . . . and what kid today would even know who the Smurfs were?

But I digress. Back to grenadine.

It's sort of scary stuff--a neon, unnatural red color. If you look closely at the label, you'll notice it's mostly high fructose corn syrup. If you spill even a small bit on to your countertop (which, if you're like me, is an unwise white color)when mixing up a drink (which, if you're like me, is fairly likely, especially on later rounds), it'll leave nasty pink stains that it takes harsh cleanser and a lot of elbow grease to get clean.

Enter pomegranate nectar.

A pleasant purple color. It's much less sweet than grenadine (which is understandable, since Rose's grenadine is probably something like 99.5% corn syrup), but you are left with a tropical drink that feels tropical and doesn't seem like it should have been mixed in a slushy machine.

Like this modified version of the Mai Tai:

1 oz. light rum
1 oz. dark rum
1 oz. Triple sec
1/2 oz. pomegranate nectar (instead of grenadine)
1/2 oz. pineapple juice (instead of orgeat syrup)
1/2 oz. fresh lime juice

Shake with ice, strain into chilled glass (preferably an authentic Tiki mug) over crushed ice, and garnish with a spear of pineapple and cherry, or a nice paper umbrella if you have one.

You can also substitute pomegranate for grenadine in tequila drinks, like this Mexicana:

1 1/2 oz Tequila
1 1/2 oz. Pineapple Juice
1 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz. Pomegranate nectar (instead of 1 tsp Grenadine)

Shake with ice and strain into a glass with crushed ice.

I know there's a lot of hoo-hah out there right now about pomegranate juice, and it seems a lot of people are drinking it for various antioxidants and other health fixes. Maybe. But at least it's easy to find now, and it makes a great addition to the cocktail mixer lineup.

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