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Tiki Central Forums » » Tiki Drinks and Food » » The Jab's grenadine taste-off
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The Jab's grenadine taste-off
Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 2989
From: Tradewinds Apartments, Alameda, CA
Posted: 2006-11-23 2:26 pm   Permalink

Here is my comparison of four store-bought grenadines. I did not compare them to homemade grenadine, which has been discussed before. This is for the lazy folks like myself who would rather buy it premade. I did not include Rose's as it's common knowledge now that it's garbage. And I didn't do a blind taste test, so my judgement may have been biased a bit.

Listed in order of my preference for making cocktails from first to last:

Fee Brothers American Beauty
what I paid: $4.45 for 12.8 fluid ounces
ingredients: corn syrup, sugar, water, nat. and art. flavors, citric acid, benzoate of soda, red #40, blue #1
pomegranate taste: intense
sweetness: very sweet
color: very dark red
viscosity: very thick

Torani Pomegranate Syrup (not labeled as grenadine)
what I paid: can't recall, but it goes for $5.89 for 750ml at BevMo
ingredients: cane sugar, water, nat. flavors, tartaric acid, benzoate of soda, caramel color, red #40
pomegranate taste: strong
sweetness: moderately sweet
color: dark red
viscosity: medium, more viscous than water

what I paid: around $5 for 12 fl oz
ingredients: water, pomegranate juice form concentrate, cane sugar, citric acid, nat flavor, pectin
pomegranate taste: fairly strong
sweetness: medium
color: light to medium red
viscosity: thin

Trader Vic's
what I paid: $4.99 for 750ml
ingredients: high fructose corn syrup, water, nat. and art. flavors, tartaric acid, red #40
pomegranate taste: weak, tastes mostly like vanilla
sweetness: very sweet
color: dark red
viscosity: very thick

In conclusion, I highly recommend Fee Brother's. You can buy it from their web site if it's not available locally. If you need grenadine in a hurry and can't find Fee I would buy Torani and maybe add a bit of simple syrup because it's not as sweet as other grenadines. If you want an all-natural grenadine, buy Stirrings, or better yet make it yourself, but I found that when using Stirrings you may need to double the quantity because it's just too weak. Although I used to use Trader Vic's brand, I can't recommend it anymore because there are better choices out there that don't use high fructose corn syrup exclusively.

I hope I haven't been too redundant with this topic.

Try a Scofflaw Cocktail or Jack Rose today!

[ This Message was edited by: thejab 2006-11-23 14:28 ]

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 23, 2006
Posts: 464
From: Stuart, Florida
Posted: 2006-11-24 07:30 am   Permalink

I've visited Fee Brothers website but all it has is product descriptions but no prices and no way of ordering online. Is there another website where these products can be purchased?
I bet you feel more like you do now now than you did when you came in.


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Site Administrator

Joined: Aug 10, 2004
Posts: 3452
From: Redondo Beach, CA
Posted: 2006-11-24 09:09 am   Permalink

Thanks Jab! The timing of your post was perfect as I just used the last of my TV grenadine last night. Time to track down some Fee Brothers.

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Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 2989
From: Tradewinds Apartments, Alameda, CA
Posted: 2006-11-24 10:20 am   Permalink

GH - Try calling or emailing Fee Brothers. I heard that they take orders by check or money order but not online.

Other grenadines out there that I don't have on hand:

Angostura - I tried a bottle once and liked it but have not seen it in a long time.

Sonoma Syrup Pomegranate Simple Syrup - Dr. Cocktail recommends this one so I need to try some. It's $8 for a 375ml bottle at sonomasyrup.com.

Monin - $7.95 for a 750ml bottle at monin.com

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 20, 2004
Posts: 1784
From: Orlando
Posted: 2006-11-24 7:49 pm   Permalink

I have a couple of bottles of Williams-Sonoma's grenadine. It's very tasty and I like it quite a bit, but it's thin for a syrup and it doesn't turn your drink as red as you might expect. Give it a try though and let us know what you think of it compared to the others. The only other one I have on hand is Trader Vic's, which I find to be overly sweet and candy-like.

surfasonline.com carries Fee Brothers products. That's where I get their Falernum and orange bitters. I don't see the grandine listed, but they might get it if asked.

[ This Message was edited by: GatorRob 2006-11-24 19:52 ]

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 07, 2005
Posts: 1566
From: Mass.
Posted: 2006-11-25 04:07 am   Permalink

Thanks, Jab!

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Mai Tai
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 21, 2004
Posts: 1437
From: Exotic Isle of Alameda
Posted: 2006-11-27 10:49 pm   Permalink

I wonder how grenadine made out of POM Wonderful pomegranate juice would taste in comparison? Here's a thread about POM from about 2+ years back, and good things were said about it.

I'd love to hear The Jab's opinion and comparison (and others' as well) of a homeade grenadine made from POM against those other grenadines. And I've got a great big unopened bottle of POM that I'm willing to contribute to the cause. I'm thinking that since a lot of our other mixers are now being made from scratch, then why not grenadine as well?
"It's Mai Tai. It's out of this world." - Victor Jules Bergeron Jr.

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Grand Member (8 years)  

Joined: Nov 26, 2005
Posts: 4995
Posted: 2006-11-28 06:40 am   Permalink

November was national pomegranate month. So they had them in the store
fresh. I got one ($2.50) And made grenadine out of it like this.
Cut open pomegranate, Do this over a bowl they bleed like crazy.
Now separate the seed like things from rind stuff.
This is messy. Put the seed like things in a bowl.
You will have about half a cup of seeds. They are like grape seeds. Only red.
Cover seeds with 3/4 cup of sugar. Kind of mash the seeds every now and then.
Set mix in the fridge and cover.
Let set 24 hours. Now heat and stir till a boil.
Set aside and let cool. Strain mix with cheese cloth.
It taste great! But is messy to make.
This will spoil. So keep in the fridge. And use soon.

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Dec 23, 2002
Posts: 567
From: Kahiki, Ohio
Posted: 2006-11-28 08:32 am   Permalink

Somewhere there's a thread in here where I described making grenadine from whole pommegranates. It was very good, but tedious and as Skip mentions, messy. When you use the whole fruit and grind it up, you get some tannins and bitterness in the finished product that really make a very "adult" and full tasting grenadine. But for the effort and cost it is hardly worth it for everyday use.

So my goal since then has been to simply put the pomm back in grenadine. I have used cooked down Pom Wonderful juice as well as other brands, and that works okay. It takes a while to reduce, and the cost is again a bit high per finished bottle.

A taste test comparison between factory grenadine with a low pomm content (or none at all) is certainly night and day. There is simply not one brand that even remotely compares to real pomm flavor and color.

So instead of grinding, mashing, boiling, reducing, etc..

..you can just buy pommegranate concentrate and add it to any decent store brand grenadine (but not Rose's or that thin watery Stirrings stuff) or to sugar syrup. Pomm concentrate is nothing more than cooked down pomm juice. So when you add it to sugar syrup, you get a very high pomm content per finished bottle.

My own preference is to use roughly 2 parts Top Shelf brand grenadine or Torani brand pomm syrup, and add roughly 1 part pomm concentrate and just a little white rum to preserve it. All you do is funnel these ingredients into a fifth bottle and shake it up. The combo of the red food color with the real pomm color is just blood red and rich, and the flavoring mixed with real pomm is top notch.

But sugar syrup works just as well really.

Real pommegranate flavor is so very different from flavor additives both natural and otherwise that there is simply no way to go back to pomm free stuff or low pomm content after that. And luckily the bottle and shake method is so stupid easy that it is unlikely that anyone could reasonably excuse themselves form trying this method based upon the effort required.

Now, a bottle of pommegranate concentrate will set you back about $15, but when you can get around 2-3 fifths or so of solid product out of one bottle, it makes sense.

A fifth of grenadine lasts a while in my house.


Fraternal Order of Moai

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Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 2989
From: Tradewinds Apartments, Alameda, CA
Posted: 2006-11-28 1:29 pm   Permalink

As I said in my first post my intent of this topic is to compare store-bought grenadines, because homemade has been discussed before in other threads.

One could argue that no bar in the heyday of tiki bars (or before) made their own - I bet they all used bottled grenadine (which I have read isn't strictly pomegranate juice and sugar but for many years has included other flavors as well). So, if you want to get as close as possible to the orginal cocktail recipies homemade may not always be the best way to go. The same has been argued regarding Falernum and Pimento.

Does anyone have any Monin or Angostura to weigh in on?

Martiki don't get mad at me I think it's great that you make your own for FI.

[ This Message was edited by: thejab 2006-11-28 13:46 ]

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Official Mixologist

Joined: Mar 29, 2002
Posts: 3059
From: http://www.smugglerscovesf.com
Posted: 2006-11-29 11:37 am   Permalink

you're not allowed back in FI.

oh, who the hell am I kidding? the jab is filling my 401k. Maybe we could just find a way for me to garnish your wages with your employer directly and save us all a little trouble.

I have the Angostura at home, and I think it's pretty good, certainly the best retail one I've ever had. It is no longer available- they stopped their syrup line.

POM is available to food service operators as a concentrate, and I'm trying to get some to save the hassle of reducing regular POM.

I'm much happier with homemade, though I'm working on getting it a little more tart. We use so little of it at FI, it's practically a non-issue.

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 06, 2002
Posts: 322
From: Hockessin, Delaware
Posted: 2006-11-29 5:25 pm   Permalink

I recently took my portable bar on the road to a huge party. When I arrived I found I had left my Trader Vics Grenadine (the only brand I use) at home.

When I got to the local liquor store they had about 5 differant brands.
I read the ingrediants and chose "Finest Call", because it was the only one that had pomagranate in it and it comes in a handy pour and store container.

It was pretty good, much better than Roses and some others I have tried.

[ This Message was edited by: captnkirk 2006-11-29 17:29 ]

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jan 23, 2011
Posts: 1517
From: Tampa Bay
Posted: 2013-08-19 08:20 am   Permalink

okay, i've made my own grenadine and it turned out kinda lousy, boiling/reducing the juice left it with too much of a cooked taste.

best grenadine i've had by far was Angostura brand, but havent seen it on a store shelf in years. Stirrings is thin. Master of Mixes is teh suck. Rose's is a joke.

I recently sampled a pungent pomegranite wine (from Armenia). wondering if anybody has subbed a pom wine for grenadine?

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 23, 2010
Posts: 1319
Posted: 2013-08-19 08:27 am   Permalink

Have you tried the cold method for making grenadine? Lots of stirring or shaking required, but a very different flavor profile so I'm told.
"You can't eat real Polynesian food. It's the most horrible junk I've ever tasted." —Trader Vic Bergeron

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 13, 2013
Posts: 601
From: Melbourne, FL
Posted: 2013-08-19 10:17 am   Permalink

I have done cold press for years and have been very happy with the results. The granadine you get using POM juice and cane sugar is brght and tastes like pomagranate. The only issue I had is that homemade cold press does not lend as much color to cocktails as the chemical filled commercial drek does, so if you were trying to match a color hue of a cocktail in a photo sometimes it falls short.

Very recently I started using a middle eastern pomagranate syrup that tastes great and has a but more flavor complexity than homemade, plus it has that intense bright red color that only a little bit of good product chemistry can give you.

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