pomegranates on the (bar) menu

in order to make a good cocktail you need good ingredients. other things you need to worry about are correct proportions, dilution, and temperature. it sounds easy enough but like most things in life: its easier said than done. one reason its hard to make a good cocktail is that classic cocktail recipes often call for ingredients that are hard to come by. orgeat, pineapple gum syrup, and grenadine are sweetening syrups that were readily available in the cocktail boom before prohibition but are difficult to find today.

after the industrialization of our food system we are stuck with products like rose’s grenadine (ingredients: high fructose corn syrup, water, citric acid, natural and artificial flavors, sodium citrate, sodium benzoate, red 40, blue 1). thats a far cry from the real thing: pomegranate juice and sugar. the best bartenders in the world couldn’t make a good cocktail with that junk. at bar agricole we are lucky to use small hand foods syrups which are made with the best ingredients, just like the good old days. this winter i made some of my own grenadine with farm agricole grown pomegranates.


there is a wild old pomegranate tree at farm agricole. one that is never watered or pruned. it grows in the narrow space between the house and the neighbors property and as a result grows very tall and spindly. despite its adverse growing conditions it still pumps out a huge crop of pomegranates every year that has basically been ignored in the past. they are not at all like the plump rosy colored pomegranates found at the store. their color is incredibly dark – almost black – with hundreds of tiny seeds clinging on to a minuscule amount on fruit. the flavor is intense and sweet and bitter all at the same time. i have no idea what variety of pomegranate we have but its definitely unusual.

this past season i harvested all the fruit i could (no easy task given the location and condition of the tree) and juiced it all with an old lever juicer yielding about 15 liters of juice. It took a ridiculously long time, made a huge mess, and dyed my hands black for about three days.

next time i’ll wear gloves.

i made the syrup by reducing the juice a little less than half and then adding an equal amount of sugar. the result is wonderfully rich and fresh with an incredible dark red color. i went through the trouble of canning the grenadine to make it shelf stable which was a total waste of time because the bar has gone through almost all 13 liters of syrup in about six weeks.


there are countless cocktails that call for grenadine as an ingredient. the most well known (unfortunately) are tequila sunrise and shirley temple. some lesser known but infinitely more awesome cocktails are: presidente, scofflaw, monkey’s gland, ward eight, whiz bang, pink lady, jack rose, and mary pickford. a few of these have been on the menu recently at bar agricole.

jack rose: calvados, lemon, grenadine

presidente on the left: rum, vermouth, curacao, grenadine, orange bitters
monkey’s gland on the right: gin, orange juice, lemon juice, grenadine, absinthe


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