Grenadine is probably the most well-known of the syrups used to flavor and color mixed drinks – to add “complexity and interest” is how one reference book puts it. It is very sweet, very red, and fairly thick.
Traditionally, it was made of the juice of pomegranate seeds. Nowadays, there are brands on the market for which high-fructose corn syrup is the leading ingredient and “natural and artificial flavors” presumably stand in for the pomegranate juice. You are unlikely to find more than one version in even well-stocked supermarkets, so specialty stores or an online search may give you the most options for finding a high-quality grenadine.
Grenadine is the red layer in a Tequila Sunrise and also an ingredient in a Bacardi, a Rum Runner, a Mai Tai, and a Jack Rose. It is generally used in the nonalcoholic Shirley Temple, which, to our sorrow, makes children feel quite grown up.
You may stumble upon a grenadine that includes a small amount of alcohol (generally no more than 3 percent), but we have not. We have, however, stumbled upon one sweetened with Splenda, and we can’t decide how we feel about that.
You needn’t be mixing an alcoholic beverage to partake of grenadine. We like it drizzled over vanilla ice cream, panna cotta, pound cake, or other plain desserts. Some people like to add it to their coffee or tea. Others use it to stand in for red food coloring (though it also adds flavor).
Grenadine was originally made from pomegranates grown only on the Caribbean island of Grenada, hence the name. Perhaps some of the artificial flavors now come exclusively from Grenada, as well, but we doubt it….