Grenadine

Many cocktails call for grenadine, which, it seems, is much more than Red No. 40 and high-fructose corn syrup. It’s pomegranates! Who knew? (The FDA seems not to care.)

But more importantly, can we make it at home?

Once one finds Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s recipe for grenadine, one can.

Morgenthaler’s Grenadine

  • 2 c. fresh pomegranate juice or POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate
  • 2 c. unbleached sugar
  • 2 oz. pomegranate molasses
  • 1 tsp. orange blossom water

Heat juice slightly, just enough to allow other ingredients to dissolve easily. Stir in remaining ingredients, allow to cool, and bottle. Yields two cups.

But I’m missing a couple of ingredients.

Luckily, around the time I was looking for pomegranate molasses, I saw Alton Brown’s Good Eats episode on the pomegranate, and he covered the topic.

Pomegranate Molasses

  • 2 c. pomegranate juice
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1/2 TBsp. lemon juice

Dissolve sugar in pomegranate juice and lemon juice over medium heat. Once the sugar dissolves, simmer over medium-low heat until reduced by 3/4, or the consistency of a thick syrup. Remove from heat and cool. Yields four to six ounces.

I called a number of ethnic groceries in Dutchess County searching for orange blossom water, with no luck. Another recipe online used vanilla, so I substituted that. Thus we end up with

Grenadine

  • 2 c. pomegranate juice
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 2 oz. pomegranate molasses
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Dissolve the sugar in the pomegranate juice over low heat. Add molasses and vanilla; stir to combine. DO NOT BOIL. Remove from heat and bottle. Yields two cups.

Grandmother’s Lemonade

The hot days of Summer call for a cool drink, shade, and a lazy breeze through the apple trees. If my taste memory serves, this is Grandmother’s Lemonade.

  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1 c. lemon juice
  • 2 qt. minus 1 c. water

Cover the bottom of a half-gallon glass Tropicana Orange Juice bottle with sugar. Squeeze lemons until the sugar is covered and begins to melt. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Add water and ice to fill the remainder, about two quarts.

Naval Stores

Until Firefox gets the hang of tracking paths through the browser history, I can’t quite say exactly who started this idea in motion, but I can say what did: an article on using one’s discarded Christmas tree in various dishes, which crossed my transom around about the same time as Imbibe Magazine‘s 2010 Christmas card, which features a cocktail called Walk in the Woods containing Zirbenz, a Swiss liqueur made from the fruit of the Arolla Stone Pine. I doubted that anyone else in the house would like to have their lunch garnished with fir, so why not use it to make a drink?

After removing the Douglas Fir from the house, I dismembered it to simplify handling, then moved it to the garage. It was a fairly warm day, as far as the days this January went, but I’d rather not work in a foot or more of snow. There it sat until this past Monday. I then removed some of the more fragrant needles from the branches and washed them. Yesterday I put a handful or so in a 16 oz. Mason jar. This covered the bottom of the jar to about a 2 inch depth. I then added Tito’s Handmade Vodka up to the 12 oz. mark, put the top on, and let it sit for 24 hours. The result was strained through cheese cloth into an empty Tuthilltown whiskey bottle.

Some experimentation might be needed to determine the optimal infusion time: the result is bitter. And it smells just like the tree. It’s too bitter to drink straight, so what’s to be done? A cocktail!

The Naval Stores Cocktail

Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake until cold, then strain into your favorite glass. Serve straight up, without garnish.

I was experimenting as I built this, so the first version was built in an old-fashioned glass, and only shaken to chill. Dissolve the sugar in the vodka infusion, then add rum and lime. Add ice to your shaker, then the liquids, and shake until cold. You might want to sweeten to taste.

(This one is much better than my first attempt at making a cocktail from scratch, so some folks should prepare to be drinking it.)

Spirits of Any Kind

Now that I have more than two bitters in the house, let us try something.

A cocktail is spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters. How about an Old-Fashioned with gin?

Gin, the Old-Fashioned Way

  • cube of sugar
  • splash of water
  • 3 dashes grapefruit bitters
  • 2 oz. gin

Build in an old-fashioned glass. Soak the sugar cube with the bitters and muddle with water. Add a cube of ice or two, then the gin. Stir and enjoy.

Harvest Punch

We typically host Christmas Day dinner at our house, after my brother-in-law and his wife host the Feast of the Seven Fishes at his. Christmas Day is a more subdued affair, with fewer guests, and more flexibility in the menu. This year we had turkey, and this year I thought I’d serve a punch.

Finding a punch recipe was harder than I thought it would be. There are so many options, and so many of the options require liqueurs and other ingredients that I don’t yet have in my cabinet. Some I considered were Philadelphia Fish House Punch, Garrick Club Punch, Planter’s Punch, Chatham Artillery Punch, and those in this month’s issue of Imbibe Magazine. I settled on this Harvest Punch from Mutineer Magazine. The picture is pretty.

The spirits in the recipe are the fine products of Philadelphia Distilling: Bluecoat Gin and Vieux Carré Absinthe Supérieure. Unfortunately, none of the shops around sells Vieux Carré, and the absinthe varieties they do have seem to insist on using artificial food colorings. I should have decided earlier; I could have ordered by mail. Fortunately, a nearby shop does sell Bluecoat Gin.

As a result of the lack of absinthe I substituted Romana Sambuca. The punch lost, I’m sure, some complexity, but I wouldn’t know: I’ve not had absinthe. I also left out the cranberry bitters.

I’ve reduced this to serve the eight adults at our Christmas dinner, and still had a quart left over. This recipe can be prepared in the punch bowl or in a mixing bowl beforehand. I used a mixing bowl. I did find that the cranberry in the punch is quite strong, and mellows substantially if it rests overnight.

Harvest Punch

  • 375 ml Bluecoat Gin
  • 4 oz Romana Sambuca
  • 4 oz lemon juice
  • 8 oz cranberry juice
  • 20 oz apple cider
  • 6 toasted cardamom pods
  • 2 toasted star anise
  • 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 16 oz. sparkling water
  • 5 dashes Fee Brothers Cranberry bitters
  • 5 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Mint sprigs
  • Orange wheels
  • 6 oz. cranberries

Freeze a thin layer of water and cranberries in a bundt pan, filling about a quarter of the pan.

Toast the cardamom pods and star anise over a medium flame. While waiting for them to toast, squeeze the lemons. In a larger mixing bowl, mix the confectioner’s sugar with the lemon juice until dissolved. Add the gin and sambuca, mix until thoroughly combined with the lemon juice and sugar, then add the remaining ingredients, save the sparkling water and the garnish. Stir well.

At this point you may wish to sample the punch to see if needs adjustment. Bear in mind that the punch will be diluted later by sparkling water and ice. I increased the apple cider ration from 16 oz. to 20 oz. to cut the bitterness of the cranberries.

Combine with sparkling water over ice in a punch bowl. Garnish with cranberries, orange wheels, and mint.