There was a time when grenadine was made from the fruit the French call le grenade — the pomegranate. The historic recipe was pomegranate juice, sugar, and perhaps the small addition of other fruits and aromatics. In most quarters now, certainly in the United States, “grenadine” always means Rose’s Grenadine produced by the self-explanatory beverage conglomerate Dr. Pepper Snapple Group (DPSG), based in Plano, Texas. The company has a near monopoly on the grenadine market in North America and the Caribbean.
Rose’s “grenadine” (I will drop the quotation marks around the DPSG product in subsequent mentions for readability) is, unfortunately, the standard corporate chemical concoction. Its eight unappealing ingredients — components really — are, in order by volume, (1) high fructose corn syrup, (2) water, (3) citric acid, (4) sodium citrate, (5) sodium benzoate, (6) FD&C Red #40, (7) “natural and artificial flavors”, and (8)FD&C Blue #1.
The taste is thin and over-sweet, with a gruesome chemical bite. Rose’s grenadine can dye antique porcelain near-permanent red, and we can only wonder at what the “natural” bit of the flavors might be. It’s worth noting that DPSG also produces Hawaiian Punch®.
Even in France, modern grenadine is sometimes red, containing little or no pomegranate. But it is made with real (various red) fruits. Natural vanilla is often added. Middle-eastern suppliers produce deep-purple varieties rich in pomegranate and flavor.
In the US, pomegranate juice concentrate, available from the POM company, is very close to historic and actual grenadine. As is the company’s POM juice, available at most convenience stores. Excellent artisanal grenadines can be purchased on Amazon.
If you want that intense red color you get with the DPSG Rose’s grenadine, then add red food coloring directly to your drink or punch — and cut out the middleman.