While putting together this week's Weekly Dig column on syrups I became intrigued about the origins of grenadine. This delicious pomegranate syrup is a key ingredient in both my namesake cocktail AND my favorite kiddie cocktail (the Shirley Temple). But when, exactly, did this delicious syrup become a fashionable mixer?
While writing about the Daisy in Imbibe, David Wondrich refers to the cocktail circa the 1870s as "something of a dude's drink, a little bit of fanciness that came empinkened with grenadine." Maybe it started then-ish?
Who knows. The I could find little data on who innovated the use of grenadine in cocktails, but a few of the following, totally unrelated facts popped up repeatedly as I searched:
- There is a chain of Islands located in the Caribbean that share the same name as the delicious syrup. Nary a pomegranate grows on these islands, though. Nor to they grow on the adjacent island of Grenada.
- The French word for pomegranate? La grenade. The Spanish word? La Granada. There is some speculation that these islands got their name from early settlers who thought the island’s shape resembled that of the fruit. I mean, maybe that happened…
- There is an odd/fascinating legal situation a-brew wherein Grenada and/or the Grenadine islands are looking to claim rights to the name of the ruby red syrup, thus profiting from the sales of Grenadine with a capital "G". Read more about it here.
I also learned that "Simple Syrup" is pretty much anything but, thanks to an illuminating article chemist-turned-mixologist Darcy O'Neil contributed to the first edition of Mixologist: The Journal of the American Cocktail.
The task at hand will always involve dissolving sugar in water, of course. But the method by which you do so -- over heat, or hot process, vs. cold process -- will have a dramatic effect on the flavor & consistency of your syrup. Heated syrup will be thinner, due to a higher presence of fructose, whereas syrup dissolved at room temperature will be nice and thick, and 100% sucrose. Rather than butchering Mr. O'Neil's eloquent explanation, I suggest you purchase a copy of the book and check out his excellent blog. In the interim, here are simple syrup recipes for you to play around with.
As with all things cocktail, make a few batches, try 'em in a few cocktails, and use whichever suits you best.
A cold-process shakey-shakey method from King Cocktail, Dale Degroff
from the Craft of the Cocktail
Fill a cork bottle halfway with superfine sugar, the other half with water. Shake vigorously until most of the sugar dissolves, about 1 minute. It will remain cloudy for 5 minutes; after it clears, shake again briefly and it is ready to use. Stored in the refrigerator between uses, Simple Syrup will last for several weeks.
Darcy O'Neil's Simple Syrup
from Mixologist: the Journal of the American Cocktail
Ingredients: 2 cups sugar 2 cups water, 1/4- cup corn syrup, 1000 ML bottle (with milliliters marks on the side)
Add 2 - cups of water to a pan and bring it to a simmer, 122 - 140 degrees Fahrenheit, or 'til it's just slightly too hot to put your finger in for more than a few seconds. Add 2 cups of table sugar and 1/4 cup of corn syrup and leave on heat for 30 seconds. Remove pan from heat, stir until all is dissolved. Let solution cool then add to a bottle. Fill the bottle up to 1000 ML and shake.
NOTE: To try this recipe cold process, add sugar, water, and corn syrup to a 1000 ML bottle and shake 'til all is dissolved. Top off with water.
A cold process shakey-shakey method from David Wondrich's Killer Cocktails
borrowed from Paul Clarke's Cocktail Chronicles
Take one cup of pomegranate juice, and place it in a jar with one cup of granulated sugar. Seal tightly and shake like hell until all of the sugar is dissolved. Add another ounce or two of sugar and repeat.
Clarke suggests: Adding an ounce of high-proof vodka or grain alcohol as a preservative, and storing in a plastic container in the freezer: "the high volume of sugar keeps it from freezing, and you can just tip out a little frigid syrup each time you need it." Thanks, Paul!