This time last year, I made a little homemade grenadine during pomegranate season. We had a party shortly after that in which we mixed up Pink Lady cocktails according to this recipe in Imbibe magazine. The drinks were a hit–and although we hadn't been using grenadine around the house before that, we definitely put it into heavy rotation after the party.
Then we ran out.
By that time, pomegranates were out of season. We tried buying grenadine at the liquor store, and we tried making our own using bottled pomegranate juice. Neither were remotely as good as the homemade variety.
So! Pomegranates are back in season, and if you are so inclined, you can whip some up. Here's how I did it:
First, you have to juice the pomegranate seeds. This is not easy. Lacking any other fancy fruit-squeezing equipment, we used a basic citrus press. It took me about an hour to juice five or six pomegranates in this fashion–enough for about 2 cups of juice. This may sound like way too much time to spend on the making of homemade grenadine, but it was really rather pleasant–I poured myself a nice drink, listened to NPR–really, it wasn't so bad. But if anyone has a more efficient juice extraction method, I'm all ears.
Once you've got your juice, here's how the recipe goes. Most recipes don't call for any water, but I've found that it helps to melt the sugar in a very small amount of water before adding the juice. Up to you.
2 cups freshly-squeezed pomegranate juice
2 cups sugar (less to taste)
1 oz vodka (as a preservative)
In a saucepan, bring half a cup of water to a boil, then add the sugar. (If you think you'd like your grenadine to be a little less sweet, hold back some sugar until after you've added the pomegranate juice.) Stir until dissolved. Add the pomegranate juice and stir well. Give it a taste and add more sugar (or more juice) if needed. Once it's right, add an ounce of vodka and pour into a heatproof bottle or jar (a mason jar works well).
A homemade syrup like this will keep in the fridge for a few weeks, and it will stay fresh even longer in the freezer. The vodka helps kill bacteria and keeps it from freezing solid. It will be syrupy in the freezer, but it's fairly easy to spoon some out to make a few drinks. It "melts" quickly in the cocktail shaker.
There's the finished product. It's a lovely rose color, and it plays well with gin and vodka in all kinds of cocktails, giving everything a lovely pinkish hue. Imbibe has a number of cocktail recipes that involve grenadine; check them out here.