There’s a great little Middle Eastern market in my neighborhood where I go to stock up on fresh pita, whole spices, and spinach pies. A few months ago, I threw a jar of preserved lemons and pomegranate molasses in my shopping basket. I’d never used either ingredient, but I had vague Nigella Lawson/kitchen goddess-related aspirations and she uses them a lot in her cooking. I took the lemons and molasses home, envisioning exotically-spiced poultry and complicated tagines in my future. Maybe I’d start referring to eggplant as “aubergine.” Maybe I’d even stop hating eggplant.
I had ample opportunities to cook with the preserved lemons. Many Nigella and Ottolenghi cookbooks were paged through (and never cooked from). I’d bring home a nice plump roasting chicken from the butcher and think, I should really use those preserved lemons. And then I’d be like, naaaaah, and would opt instead for my favorite Jacques Pepin recipe which has never let me down. I can make his quick-roasted chicken pretty much blindfolded at this point, and my friends have requested it on countless occasions. Why would I stray from a good thing?
That little jar of citrus languished in the hinterlands of my refrigerator for months, staring accusingly at me every time I opened the door. Supposedly preserved lemons last forever in the fridge, but enough time had passed that I was squeamish about cooking with them. Finally, I tossed them in the trash. That bottle of pomegranate molasses seemed still edible. Determined to not repeat my mistakes, I turned to my best friend, the Internet, for ways to use up this ingredient. And the Internet told me to make grenadine. I’d always assumed that bottle of garish red syrup was cherry flavored, but it turns out I’m mistaken. Real grenadine is just pomegranate juice, sugar, and perhaps some orange blossom or rose water to make it fragrant. The pomegranate molasses just adds extra concentrated flavor. “But I’m not a bow-tied mixologist! Why should I even bother?” you cry.
Unlike experimenting with a new tagine, which could lead to tears and maybe dinner in the garbage, this particular recipe requires an investment of maybe five minutes of your life and is impossible to mess up. Grenadine is super easy to make, there are no iffy ingredients like high-fructose anything, and it will taste ten times better than anything store-bought. But most importantly, you will feel so fancy busting out a bottle of the homemade stuff every time you make a drink.
I’ve tried a few drink recipes with my batch of grenadine, but my favorite so far is the Scofflaw. It’s a prohibition-era cocktail, named after the bootleggers of that time. I’ve been testing this cocktail all week, finally settling on a proportion of sweet to tart, and just a little bit of bitter that I think is really nicely balanced. Seriously, so many trials you guys! We at Pen & Palate are nothing if not dedicated to bringing you the most thoroughly vetted alcoholic drink recipes.
Makes about 3 cups
2 c. pomegranate juice (If you have a juicer and don’t mind your kitchen looking like a crime scene, by all means, make your own. I used a bottle of POM Wonderful.)
1 c. cane sugar
2 oz. pomegranate molasses
1 tsp. orange blossom water or rose water
1 oz. vodka (Optional, if you plan on using this within the month. Otherwise, the vodka helps it keep indefinitely in the refrigerator.)
Makes 1 drink
1.5 oz. rye whiskey
1 oz. dry vermouth
0.75 oz. grenadine
0.5 oz. lemon juice
3-4 dashes of orange bitters