Homemade Hibiscus Grenadine

When you think of grenadine, you probably think of Rose’s, which is grenadine in name only. Real grenadine should be sweet and a little tart. It is basically a reduced pomegranate syrup. What I am going to share with you is my recipe for a grenadine that works very well for a multitude of cocktails.

You’re going to need a few strange ingredients. I would recommend checking local Asian or Hispanic markets, or even somewhere that sells organic foods. But other than some odd ingredients, this recipe is shockingly easy. I’ve actually never written it down.

Hibiscus Grenadine

1 cup POM 100% Pomegranate juice
1 cup Turbinado or Demerara sugar
1 cup dried Sorrel, loosely packed
1 teaspoon orange blossom water
A few spices, to taste. I use 2 star anise, a few cloves and some allspice. Just to add some depth and spice.

Combine everything in a pot and whisk or stir until the sugar is well dissolved. Bring it to a boil and keep whisking for a minute or two, and then bring it down to a simmer, cover and let sit for 20 minutes.



After the twenty minutes, remove from heat and let cool. I usually wait about 20 more minutes. Then give it a final stir and slowly strain into a bottle. Let it cool before putting it in the refrigerator. You can also add 1/2 an ounce or so of vodka or white rum to help it keep longer. It’s best used within the first month, after that, the flavor tends to become a bit more tart.

You can use your new grenadine to make such drinks as The Cursed Idol or a Zombie!



Cursed Idol

I have an affinity for the weird and the macabre, which is why I named my bar The Voodoo Outpost. I lean towards the spooky and the hainted. So, it comes as no surprise I would have a drink named a The Cursed Idol. It brings to mind action and adventure, and obviously rum.

It starts with a basic sweet and sour blend, but made more complex with a blend of passion fruit, hibiscus and pomegranate. The smoky and dark Demerara rum cuts through the sweet and sour flavors in the best way. And right in the back there, quizzical notes of allspice and grapefruit from Horror in Clay’s Horror-Infused Fiendishly Tropical Bitters. If you don’t have them in your bar, you should. They’re not a sponsor, I’m just a fan of their work.


The Cursed Idol

2 oz Hamilton 86 Demerara rum
1/2 oz freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1/2 oz freshly-squeezed lime juice
1/2 oz passionfruit syrup
1/2 oz hibiscus grenadine
2 hearty dashes of Horror-Infused bitters

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with crushed ice and shake thoroughly. Pour unstrained into a rocks glass. Garnish with spent lime shell and fresh basil or mint, depending on your style. Throw in a fun cocktail pick and serve.

Commonwealth Lemonade

Recently, my dear friend at The Gluttonous Geek invited me to join her in the kitchen for a delicious Fallout 4 inspired meal. As an avid Fallout nerd myself, I’ve always wanted to make some Wasteland Libations, but never really wanted to just throw some whiskey in some Nuka and call it a Dirty Wastelander. So, after weeks of wracking my brain to figure out the perfect drink, my partner and I had a breakthrough. He had reminded me of one simple ingredient I had forgotten. A little thing called Deezer’s Lemonade.


Photo by The Lady Nerd

So, inspired thoroughly, I took a basic Whiskey Sour template and notched it up to something more likely to be found in The Colonial Taphouse than The Dugout.

 Commonwealth Lemonade:

1 1/2 oz Old Granddad Bonded Bourbon
1/2 oz Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
1/2 oz Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
1 oz Simple Syrup
1/2 oz Orange Curacao or Cointreau
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
1 1/2 oz Club Soda (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a mason jar filled with crushed ice, shake and pour unstrained into a tin can. Top with Club Soda, or enjoy without for a more potent drink.

The Lono Ranger


A friend of mine once asked me if I could make him an Algonquin. I knew the basic recipe, but I had no vermouth. Which, in retrospect, I’m so glad I didn’t. Vermouth is a very misunderstood beast. I’ve only recently found I actually like good vermouth. Before that, my only familiarity with vermouth was with the dusty old bottles that I mistakenly used to attempt Manhattans with at parties. So, I only knew that it tasted horrible. This was because they left it at room temperature after it had been opened for who knows how long.
Needless to say, I finally found a vermouth that was delicious. I’ve been mixing Manhattans, Vieux Carres, and other delicious rye & vermouth potions with it. But then my mind wandered back to that one party. The Algonquin was almost there. Only one problem, the drink calls for dry vermouth. I have sweet. Not to fear, I told myself, we can make this work. Rye and sweet vermouth go together perfectly.
Now, I wasn’t about to make a Manhattan and throw some pineapple juice in it and call it an Algonquin. This was going to be a different creature. The Algonquin’s cousin from the Islands. I’d start with my go-to rye, Bulleit. I’d throw in some of that good sweet vermouth. By that point, it felt like sacrilege to just throw some canned pineapple juice in it. So, I opted instead to move to the stove and try my hand at making a syrup.

Caramelized Pineapple Syrup:
2 half-inch thick pineapple rings cut into chunks
1 half-inch thick pad of butter
2 oz Captain Morgan Black Rum
8 oz white sugar
8 oz organic pineapple juice
2 oz demerara sugar

Drop a pad of butter into a large hot saucepan. Melt. Drop in the pineapple chunks. Caramelize them thoroughly. Deglaze the pan with rum. Add pineapple juice and sugar, stirring throughout until all sugar is dissolved. Remove pineapple chunks. Filter through a mesh sieve into a jar to cool. Transfer to bottle. Store in the refrigerator. You can add an ounce of overproof rum to keep it longer.

The Lono Ranger:
2 oz Bulleit Rye
1 oz Caramelized Pineapple Syrup
1 oz Carpano Antica Formula Sweet Vermouth
2 dashes Regan’s Orange Bitters

Combine all ingredients in a short glass. Fill to the brim with crushed ice. Swizzle with a swizzle stick, or lacking a swizzle stick, place a barspoon in the glass and spin it between your hands until a light frost appears on the sides of the glass. Garnish with a pineapple leaf and a festive stirrer.

Homemade Spiced Rum!

11798289_10206458581675888_1858447121_nTo be perfectly honest, I’ve never been fond of spiced rum. There are so many on the market that, in tiny letters, say “Spice-Flavored.” How hard can it be to just use real spices and steep them in rum, I’ve asked myself many times before. I don’t know why I never thought of doing it myself. I’ve infused so many things into so many liquors. Rosemary-infused gin? Check. Coffee-infused whiskey? Check. Earl Grey-infused vodka? Check. I’ve made cardamom and black pepper bitters. I’ve made numerous batches of Falernum. I’ve made allspice dram. Why I’ve never thought to make good, actual spiced rum until now is the mystery.

But I’ve now done it.

I don’t have an exact recipe, but here’s an idea of what it is.

1 750ml bottle of Mount Gay Eclipse
2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
4 black peppercorns
1 cardamom pod, lightly crushed
A light sprinkling of fresh grated nutmeg
6-8 allspice berries, lightly crushed
4 whole cloves
1 corner of a star anise
1/2 vanilla bean, split down the middle
1 long and wide orange zest with no pith
4 coin-sized slices of ginger

I threw everything into a mason jar and dumped all the rum in there with it. After a day, I took out the allspice and cloves and let it sit. On the third day, I ordered an oak aging stick for whiskey. It claimed it could smooth out any whiskey in 24 hours. So, I figured it would work on rum. Why not? So, with the orange zest, ginger coins, vanilla, cardamom and cinnamon being the only other additives left, I threw in the oak aging stick. The packaging said to stir occasionally during the process, and to try it at various points to see how it’s coming along. So, about 16 hours later, I decided to give it a quick taste test. I poured half an ounce into a shot glass, and because I had another bottle of the same rum, unmodified, I poured the same amount in a different shot glass. The difference is pretty outstanding. I decided I was happy where the rum was at, so I strained all the spices out and poured it into a fresh jar, adding back only the vanilla bean and oak. I’ll leave it like that for 24 more hours and then bottle it.

It was so easy, the only time it took was to prepare the ingredients, which was maybe ten minutes.
If you like spiced rum, there’s no reason not to try your hand at making it. So, grab a bottle of good rum, pick your favorite spices and other sundry flavors and steep away!

Cheers and Mahalo,
Trader Nik