Cocktail: Madame Shirley

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Earlier this week Saveur published a Whiskey Cocktails microsite, which listed over a dozen whiskey recipes, primarily culled from a September 2011 story on handcrafted whiskey cocktails. One of the more approachable recipes was a Lady Shirley. It is a bourbon drink with grenadine, lemon juice, and soda water. I thought that it would be a nice Sunday project to make my own grenadine (and whiskey cocktail).

The Saveur recipe recommends using Employees Only grenadine, which is a hand crafted mix of pomegranate and spices. I would have liked to use that because most popular grenadines, such as Rose’s, consists mostly of corn syrup. The only way to get this grenadine is to place a Fresh Direct order and wait for delivery, but I wanted to have this cocktail today. I had to make my own grenadine.

I had never made grenadine before so I searched online for a variety of recipes. The best recipe was by Jeffrey Morgenthaler, which consists of ingredients I could easily get (fresh pomegranate juice and sugar) and a couple I could not (orange blossom water and pomegranate molasses). Although I wasn’t sure how to substitute for the missing ingredients, I liked his recipe because it was didn’t require you to reduce the pomegranate juice to a thick syrup. Instead of the orange blossom water and pomegranate molasses, I thought I would use reduced black cherry juice to thicken it and give it a different level of tartness.

Here’s what I used for the grenadine:

  • 2 cups of fresh pomegranate juice, either fresh squeezed, according to Morgenthaler’s instructions, or unsweetened juice from concentrate (such as Pom or R.W. Knudsen).
  • 2 cups of sugar. I was running low so I used a mix of evaporated cane juice and Demerara brown sugar.
  • 4 ounces of black cherry juice. I again used R.W. Knudsen.

As Morgenthaler writes, you basically only need to heat the pomegranate juice enough to melt the sugar. I heated the juice for a few minutes in a saucepan. After the juice had become warm, I transferred juice and combined it with the sugar in a quart-sized Mason jar. I then heated the cherry juice in the same saucepan, reducing it by half (about ten minutes). I emptied the cherry syrup to the mason jar, shook it, and chilled it until it was “refrigerator” cold. In retrospect, I would have squeezed an orange, enough for a splash, to give it a different citrus flavor.

Once my grenadine chilled, I then made the cocktail.

  • 2 ounces of bourbon. Cheap is fine: I used Evan Williams.
  • 1 ounce of freshly squeezed lemon juice. That’s about a half a lemon’s worth.
  • 1 ounce of my grenadine.

Combine the ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker and then pour into a glass full of crushed ice. Add a lemon wedge, not pictured, for garnish. This recipe is a little different from the aforementioned Lady Shirley because I used only half as much lemon juice (I hadn’t bought very many lemons today), and I did not finish the drink with soda water because I had used so much crushed ice which melts quickly and “dampens” the cocktail.

Try it out and let me know what you think.

(Via Saveur and Jeffrey Morgenthaler.)

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