What alcohol is in grenadine?

Grenadine is a sweet, red syrup that is commonly used as an ingredient in cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks. Despite its popularity as a drink mixer, there is a common misconception that grenadine contains alcohol. In fact, grenadine is a non-alcoholic ingredient that gets its signature red hue from pomegranate juice.

Does Grenadine Contain Alcohol?

The short answer is no, grenadine does not contain any alcohol. Grenadine is classified as a non-alcoholic syrup or cordial. It is made from pomegranate juice, sugar, and sometimes additional fruit juices and flavorings. While it imparts a tangy sweetness and vibrant red color to drinks, grenadine does not have any spirit or alcohol content on its own.

This misconception likely stems from the fact that grenadine is frequently used in popular cocktails that do contain alcohol, such as the Tequila Sunrise, Sea Breeze, and Grenadine Gibson. The alcohol content in these drinks comes from their distilled liquor ingredients, not the grenadine. For example, a Tequila Sunrise is made with tequila, orange juice, and grenadine. The tequila provides the alcoholic punch, while the non-alcoholic grenadine provides flavor, sweetness, and color.

History of Grenadine

Grenadine was originally made from pomegranate juice, and got its name from the French word for pomegranate, “grenade.” Pomegranate grenadine goes back centuries and was a popular ingredient in early punch recipes. Over time, producers started experimenting with additional fruit juices and flavorings. By the 1900s, most commercial grenadine contained no pomegranate at all and was instead made from canned cherry juice, artificial flavors, and food coloring. However, in recent decades there has been a revival of homemade and artisanal grenadine using real pomegranate juice.

Traditional Grenadine Recipes

Authentic grenadine recipes date back to the mid-1800s and were simply a mixture of pomegranate juice, sugar, and sometimes citrus zests or herbs. Here is one historical recipe printed in 1862 in England:

  • Take twelve ounces of pomegranate juice
  • Add eighteen ounces of sugar
  • Stir or shake until sugar is dissolved
  • Add the zests of three lemons and two oranges
  • Let stand for a week before using

This recipe contains no spirits of any kind. The tangy sweetness comes directly from pomegranate juice and sugar. Other traditional grenadine recipes follow similar formulas.

Rise of Modern Commercial Grenadine

By the early 20th century, artificially flavored and colored grenadine became widespread. One of the first mass-produced grenadine brands contained approximately 25% pomegranate along with citrus juices and preservatives. Over time, most brands eliminated pomegranate altogether. As homemade grenadine fell out of fashion, commercial varieties replaced it in bars and restaurants. These commercial grenadines were thick, red, sweet syrups though they were devoid of pomegranate flavor outside of artificial enhancers. This artificially flavored grenadine is what most people recognize today.

Grenadine Today

In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in homemade, authentic grenadine using real pomegranate juice. Bars specializing in craft cocktails often make their own grenadine spiked with additional fruit juices or herbs. Small-batch artisanal grenadine producers have also emerged to provide bottled grenadine with no artificial ingredients. However, mainstream commercial varieties containing no real pomegranate continue to dominate the market. When browsing the grocery store syrup aisle, you must read ingredients carefully to know if you are getting real pomegranate grenadine or an artificial imitation.

Popular Cocktails Made with Grenadine

Here are some of the most popular cocktails that include grenadine as an ingredient:

Tequila Sunrise

This refreshing summertime cocktail mixes tequila, orange juice, and grenadine. The tequila provides alcohol, the orange juice provides citrus flavor, and the grenadine provides sweetness as well as the gradient effect of the red syrup sinking to the bottom.

The Jason Cocktail

This simple cocktail was popularized in the 1960s and contains gin, lime juice, creme de cassis, and grenadine. The gin is the alcoholic base, while the grenadine adds tangy sweetness.

Planter’s Punch

This Caribbean cocktail blend light and dark rum with orange juice, pineapple juice, lime juice, angostura bitters, and grenadine. The rums provide the alcoholic content, while grenadine contributes sweetness and color.

Shirley Temple

This non-alcoholic drink is a mixture of ginger ale, lemon-lime soda, and grenadine. Grenadine is the key ingredient providing vibrant color and sweetness. Other fruit juices are sometimes added as well.

The Pom Pom

This cocktail invented in the 1920s contains gin, grenadine, lemon juice, and absinthe. The gin gives it alcohol, while the grenadine provides its signature red hue.

Making Your Own Grenadine

It’s easy to make homemade grenadine for use in cocktails or mocktails. Here is a simple recipe:


  • 1 cup 100% pomegranate juice
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp orange flower water (optional)


  1. Combine pomegranate juice and sugar in a small saucepan
  2. Heat over medium, stirring frequently, until sugar fully dissolves
  3. Remove from heat and allow to cool
  4. Stir in orange flower water, if using
  5. Transfer to an airtight bottle or container
  6. Refrigerate for up to 1 month

For an even longer shelf life, this grenadine can be canned using sterilized bottles and a water bath canner. Otherwise store it in the refrigerator and shake before use.

Customizing Your Grenadine

Tailor your homemade grenadine to your taste preferences by playing around with these substitutions:

  • Replace up to half the pomegranate juice with blood orange, cherry, or other fruit juices
  • Flavor with spices like cinnamon sticks, vanilla beans, or fresh ginger
  • Use honey or agave nectar instead of plain white sugar
  • Infuse with fresh herbs like basil, rosemary, or lavender
  • Splash in a small amount of vodka or rum for an alcoholic grenadine

Grenadine is the perfect canvas for creativity. Design a custom syrup to complement your favorite cocktails.

Non-Alcoholic Uses for Grenadine

In addition to cocktails, grenadine can be used to add flavor, color, and sweetness to an array of non-alcoholic drinks and foods including:

  • Mocktails
  • Sodas
  • Lemonade and fruit punch
  • Iced tea
  • Milkshakes
  • Smoothies
  • Snow cones
  • Yogurt parfaits
  • Fruit salads
  • Granola and breakfast bowls
  • Desserts like cake, cookies, and pudding

Grenadine’s versatility makes it a stellar ingredient for everything from kid-friendly treats to grown-up desserts. Keep a bottle on hand for instant sweetness in shakes, dressings, glazes, and more.

Where to Buy Grenadine

There are several options for purchasing grenadine:


Numerous specialty syrup brands sell grenadine online. This provides the widest selection and enables you to order directly from artisanal producers.

Liquor Stores

Well-stocked liquor stores will carry grenadine, often from big commercial brands. Check the ingredients to ensure you’re getting real pomegranate.

Grocery Stores

Grenadine can typically be found in the syrup/mixers aisle at grocery stores. Again, check for real pomegranate juice rather than artificial flavors.

Juice Bars

Some juice and smoothie bars make small-batch fresh grenadine for use in their drinks. You may be able to purchase a bottle from them.

Restaurant Supply Stores

Restaurant and bar supply shops will stock grenadine for commercial use. Call ahead to check availability.

How to Identify Real Pomegranate Grenadine

With so many commercial grenadine brands available, how can you identify one made with real pomegranate juice? Here are some tips:

  • Read the ingredients list. Pomegranate juice or extract should be listed first.
  • Look for the words “100% Pomegranate” or “Made with Real Pomegranate.”
  • Avoid grenadines listing artificial flavors, propylene glycol, FD&C colors.
  • Opt for brands sold at juice shops, specialty stores or artisanal producers.
  • When in doubt, make your own using pure pomegranate juice.

Authentic grenadine has a tangy sweet-tart flavor profile. If your grenadine is cloyingly sweet without fruitiness, it’s likely not the real deal.

Storing Grenadine

Unopened grenadine has a shelf life of about 1-2 years. Once opened, it will last 4-6 months in the refrigerator. Signs that your grenadine has expired include:

  • Mold growth
  • Fermented smell
  • Separation or layering of ingredients
  • Crystalized sugar
  • Loss of vibrant red color
  • Flat or dull flavor

For maximum shelf life, store grenadine in a cool, dark place like a pantry before opening. Refrigerate after opening and discard if it develops any off flavors, textures, or appearance.

Cocktail Recipes Using Grenadine

Ready to put your homemade or store-bought grenadine to use in some tasty cocktails? Here are a few recipe ideas:

The Jack Rose

A classic cocktail dating back to the early 1900s made with applejack brandy, lemon juice, and grenadine. Tart and fruity.

Bahama Mama

A tropical blend of rum, coffee liqueur, coconut rum, pineapple juice, orange juice, and grenadine. Sweet and vacation-worthy.

Grenadine Gibson

A grenadine-laced twist on the Gibson cocktail with gin, dry vermouth, and a maraschino cherry garnish.

Tequila Sunburn

Similar to a Tequila Sunrise but with ginger beer instead of orange juice along with tequila and grenadine.

The Pink Lady

An elegant, frothy blend of gin, lemon juice, egg white, and grenadine shaken and strained into a cocktail glass.

Mocktail Recipes Using Grenadine

Grenadine can star in fun non-alcoholic drinks too. Try these kid-friendly mocktail recipes:

Shirley Temple

The classic mocktail made with lemon-lime soda and grenadine over ice.

Pomegranate Lime Fizz

Pomegranate juice, lime juice, sparkling water, and grenadine make a bubbly refresher.

Virgin Sunrise

Orange juice and grenadine recreate the sunrise effect without alcohol.

Grenadine Slushie

Blend grenadine, orange juice, pineapple juice, lemon juice, and ice for a slushy treat.

Raspberry Royale

Raspberry ginger ale, cranberry juice, and grenadine topped with sliced strawberries.

FAQs about Grenadine

Does grenadine need to be refrigerated?

Unopened grenadine can be stored at room temperature. Once opened, refrigerate and use within 4-6 months.

Where does grenadine originally come from?

Grenadine originated in France as a syrup made from pomegranate juice which took its name from the French word for pomegranates, “grenade.”

Is there an alcohol-free grenadine?

Yes, grenadine is alcohol-free by nature. Any product labeled simply as “grenadine” will not contain any spirits.

What’s the difference between grenadine and pomegranate juice?

Grenadine is diluted with added sugar while pomegranate juice is 100% juice. Grenadine also has a thicker, syrupy texture.

What is grenadine traditionally made from?

Traditionally grenadine was made by mixing pomegranate juice and sugar. Modern commercial versions may substitute artificial ingredients.

Does grenadine go bad?

Like any syrup, grenadine can go bad once opened if left at room temperature for an extended period. Discard if you see mold, smell fermentation, or notice changes in color or texture.


With its tangy-sweet flavor and vibrant hue, grenadine syrup brings life to cocktails and mocktails alike. Despite its frequent use in mixed drinks, this essential bar ingredient contains no alcohol itself. Grenadine’s alcohol-free status makes it an incredibly versatile mixer perfect for everything from kid-friendly Shirley Temples to craft cocktails. With the growing availability of small-batch artisanal grenadines made from real pomegranate juice, it’s easier than ever to find an all-natural product. Whether you opt for homemade or store-bought, quality grenadine is an indispensable component of any well-stocked home bar.

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