How to Make Rhubarb Grenadine
One of my fondest memories as a young boy was throwing back kiddie cocktails while out to eat with my parents. As this was a rare occasion, I was thrilled to be able to drink something other than milk. However, over the years, my palate matured, and the thought of consuming artificially flavored beverages disgusted me, along with the adulteration of sodium benzoate, Red #40, Blue #1, and high fructose corn syrup that is commercial grenadine.
My love for drinking and creating craft cocktails has allowed me to revisit the idea of grenadine in its purest form: pomegranate, raw sugar, and hibiscus. Simple as that. There are no added artificial flavors or colors, just four ingredients, when you count the water.
Unfortunately, I am a few months late for pomegranate season, but my ingenuity has led me to a new secret ingredient. Respecting one of the unspoken tenets of mixology–use nothing but the freshest, in-season ingredients–I have decided to substitute the classic fall/winter fruit for the spring perennial, rhubarb. Although one grows in trees and the other underground, they are both tart and sour. And while it is not the grenadine you know in the traditional sense, the definition of grenadine does state, “A moderate to reddish orange.” Therefore, it follows suit.
Yield: 25.36 oz. (750 ml)
Time: Approximately 45 minutes
Tools: large saucepan, knife, sieve, funnel, cheesecloth, 750 ml flip top glass bottle
7 -8 stalks (petioles) of fresh, crisp rhubarb
4 cups (0.946 L) water
4 cups (804 g) sugar, raw
1 cup (70 g) hibiscus flowers, dried
1 fl. oz. (29.57 ml) vodka (optional)
2 – 3 drops rose flower water (optional)
1. Coarsely chop the rhubarb and place it in a saucepan with the water.
2. Bring the water to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes (approximately 1 cup of water boils off, so you may need to add another cup).
3. Remove from heat and strain out the solids with a sieve and cheesecloth.
4. Return to medium heat, add sugar, and stir.
5. Once the sugar has dissolved, remove from heat, and add the dried hibiscus flowers.
6. Allow mixture to steep for approximately 30 minutes.
7. Using a funnel, sieve, and cheesecloth, strain the mixture into a flip top bottle.
8. Add vodka (for preservation) and rose flower water if desired.
Recipe Note: For this recipe, I used a 1:1 sugar to water ratio. If you prefer a thicker syrup, use a 2:1 ratio.