Finding grenadine syrup isn’t very hard, but you won’t likely find a decent one at your local grocery store, nor most restaurant supply companies. You may find good grenadine at specialty shops or online. But that leads to the question; Is there such a thing as good grenadine? I’d have to say yes there is, but for the most part they are all very sweet and bright red in colour. So depending on your application, you may decide which is right for your cocktails, because the flavours vary widely and so does the price. Most are artificially flavoured, some are all natural and some are in between.
In my previous post about grenadine syrup a couple of people comment that the use of grenadine is more about flavour than sweetening and colour, which is contrary to my views. One of the things I failed to mention is that most bars use grenadine that has no pomegranate juice in it. These generic brands of grenadine usually contain the following:
Ingredients: Liquid sugar, glucose, water, citric acid, artificial flavour, sodium benzoate, colour and traces of sulphites.
Please note that there is no mention of natural flavour or pomegranate. This would indicate to me that this is primarily a sweetener and colourant. Sure it does have some flavour, but it doesn’t seem to be the manufacturers primary concern. Most generic grenadine use vanilla as a flavour instead of pomegranate, which give you that cream soda flavour. Sure, there are some companies that are starting to use natural flavours and avoiding artificial colour, but they are the minority. Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of all-natural products, but so many bars look at the bottom line before they look at the ingredient list.
In this round-up there are five grenadine, representing a good cross section of the market. Included are reviews of grocery store variety grenadine all the way to all natural grenadine and levels in between.
Fee Brothers American Beauty Grenadine
Deep red colour. Rich flavour, very sweet with good viscosity. Red fruit flavour, but doesn’t have the natural sourness of real pomegranate juice. More on Fee Brother’s Grenadine
Monin Grenadine Syrup
Bright red, sweet and sour flavour closer to real pomegranate juice than others in the round up. No artificial flavours. More on Monin Grenadine
Sonoma Syrup Company Grenadine
Light reddish brown in colour, excellent pomegranate flavour with hints of vanilla. Not as sweet as other grenadine. More on Sonoma Syrup Co. Grenadine
Trader Vic’s Grenadine
Bright red with a sweet flavour. Not as viscous as others like Fee’s and Chateau Thierry. Almost a cream soda flavour. More on Trader Vic’s Grenadine
Chateau Thierry Grenadine
Bright red, very sweet and viscous with a berry/vanilla like flavour.
Monin comes the closest to the flavour of real pomegranate juice. The Sonoma brand comes close, but it has a vanilla flavour that puts it on the edge. Fee Brother’s in good and has a decent flavour, but lacks in the acidity. Trader Vic’s is a basic grenadine. The Chateau Thierry was a baseline test on the super market brand grenadine. Very simple flavour, nothing special.
For cocktails that are dependent on quality ingredients, with cost not really a consideration, I’d pick the Sonoma or Monin. For bars that want an upgrade in the flavour department, but not cost, you can’t go wrong with Fee Brothers.
The one thing that tasting all of these grenadine syrups leaves you with is that there is a lot of sugar in them. Even though they have flavour, you’d only be able to use a small amount of grenadine in any well balanced cocktail, otherwise it would be just too sweet. After all that tasting I think I’ll go brush my teeth and take some insulin.