A well stocked bar is certainly a goal for a party host. But, often due to economics, as well as time constraints, it is better to feature just a few drink options for your guest.
A strong spirit for those who like their drinks straight (whiskey, bourbon, scotch, even vodka are options).
A welcoming drink, such as a Champaign cocktail to start the meal.
Plan on one specialty drink that sets the mood. I was featuring a summer salad, and decided to make a tropical drink to highlight that course.
And, of course you want soft drinks available for designated drivers or teetotalers.
All of these drinks, including the straight spirit can be accented with pomegranates and the sauces I made from them. Before we get to the drink recipes, let's discuss GRENADINE!
Not to start ranting, but that bottle in most bars these days is not actual grenadine (no matter what the label says). Rose's Grenadine, by far, the best selling brand in the United States has zero pomegranate juice. instead, it is mostly High Fructose Corn Syrup. But, making authentic Grenadine is very easy and has a much fuller deeper richer taste than the commercial brands. It will store in the freezer nearly forever.You've seen it, you've drunk it , even if you don't know it. It's that little bit of bright red mixer that goes in Shirley Temples (for you female virgin drinkers, and Roy Rogers for the boys), lots of tropical drinks (rum punches and the like) and a Tequila Sunrise (which you will hear about when I am done making Grenadine (soon, I promise).
In French, Grenade means Pomegranate. Really, the weapon grenade is actually named for the fruit pomegranate (which has all those little bits inside, much like a grenade has all those little bits inside). Grenadine the drink mixer was made from the juice of a pomegranate (and sometimes a little extra cherry juice).. It is reduced, sweetened and makes wonderful drinks
Don't stay at home and mix drinks without it.
I cook with quite a bit of honey. I like to save the little bear bottles to use to store my leftover, unused sauces. One 16 ounce bottle of Pom Wonderful Juice will reduce down to 8 ounces of Grenadine.
Here's how to make it...
Just open the bottle and pour the whole thing (16 ounces, each bottle of Pom Wonderful has the juice of 4 Pomegranates) into a sauce pan.
Get to a simmer and wait...About 15 minutes. Let it reduce by about half.
You want the Grenadine to be just a tiny amount thick, enough to coat the back of a spoon, but not thick like a syrup.
You could use the reduction as is. But it would be a little tart, and not really authentic grenadine.
To make it authentic (and tasty), remove from the heat and add 1/2 cup of extra fine sugar. The difference between a grenadine sauce and a pomegranate molasses is this step. In the molasses, you add the sugar as it reduces, cooking and melting the sugar. In a grenadine, you remove from the heat and mix the sugar in the warm, cooling sauce. The sugar is dissolved, not melted.
Also, I add 1 jigger of vodka (OK, add an ounce and a half, but tossing around a term like jigger makes you sound like a bartender).
Storage. I drink my coffee with a little honey added. SO I have lots of those little bear shaped bottles around. they are great to use to store partial sauces. Like this.Just fill the bear.
I got right at 10 ounces of real authentic GRENADINE!
Because I added the vodka, I am able to store the bottle in the freezer.
That's my bear next to my frosted glass. When my poker buddies are over, the frosted mug makes my beer look great. But honestly, I have a glass of milk in a frosty mug every night before bed... I am older than dirt, and it settles my stomach. Shhhh, it's a secret, don't tell my poker buddies.
And here's one more prep work fun little trick for you to really separate your drinks from the rest...
Make some Pomegranate juice ice cubes and if you are making Mimosas or a Tequila Sunrise, freeze some orange juice with Pomegranate Arils floating in them.
The Pomegranate ice cubes are actually a 50 50 mix of water and Pom Wonderful juice. The extra water helps them to freeze better and keeps them from melting too fast.
The orange juice is straight, no water need be added. As Florida orange growers know all too well, oranges freeze easy.
And now, armed with genuine Grenadine as well as fanciful accent ice cubes...
Let's mix some drinks...
The Pomegranate Shirley Temple...
The Shirley Temple cocktail may have been invented by a bartender at Chasen's, a restaurant in Beverly Hills, California, in the 1930s, in honor of the child actress, who had requested a cocktail that was not alcoholic.
My original recipe for my Pomegranate Shirley Temple is a virgin (non-alcoholic) cocktail. For adults, it has the look of a specialty cocktail. For children, it has a distinctive taste, sweeter than the normal soft drinks, so sure to be a pleaser.
The recipe could not be easier...
Fill a glass with a Lemon-Lime Soda (such as 7-Up)
Add Pomegranate ice cubes
As the cubes melt, the drink increases in Pomegranate taste!
Another option would be to use a cola drink. This would make it a Pomegranate Roy Rogers. A handy idea for holiday meals to make the children feel special.
The Pomegranate Manhattan
The classic Manhattan is whiskey with a bit of sweet vermouth and bitters. Almost a whiskey martini. It is a wonderful drink that has fallen out of fashion with all the fancy sex on the beaches and the like. But, there is a certain type of drinker that appreciates a more straight forward drink with only enough mixer to accent, not overpower a spirit. the Manhattan is that type of drink.
My Pomegranate Manhattan is just as easy as the Pomegranate Shirley temple. Simply a shot and a half of Whiskey, and served with a couple of Pomegranate ice cubes. As the cubes melt, the drink experiences a delightful change in taste.
Another option would be a Vodka on the rocks using Pomegranate cubes, as well as gin for an iced Pomegranate Martini.
The Champaign Pomegranate Cocktail
a Champaign Pomegranate Cocktail is the perfect drink to greet your guests with as the dinner begins. Sets a festive mood from the start. the popping of the cork is like the bang of a starter's pistol. Dah da da daaah da dah - CHARGE! Time for something special.
4 ounces of champaign, add fresh Pomegranate Arils as accents and a Pomegranate ice cube and you have the perfect easy to make Pomegranate Champaign Cocktail!
The Pomegranate Tequila Sunrise
By far, the prettiest of the drinks I made. With the thick Grenadine sauce gently floating down the sides, this is my favorite.
A classic recipe for a Tequila Sunrise is 6 ounces of orange juice, One and a half ounces of tequila, a splash of grenadine around the edge, served in a tall glass with ice.
I, of course, used the fresh made Grenadine, as well as the orange juice ice cubes with the Arils floating inside. A bright sunny tropical drink. Perfect for a cold November night, when serving a summer caprese salad.
When planning a dinner party, consider the drinks you will make. Hosts have an awful lot to do. Plan only a few specialty drinks, practice making them ahead of time and you will not have to spend much of the night as bartender. But, best of all, your guests will believe you are mixing drinks like a professional.
And if you need a little help in learning to open a Pomegranate to get at the good stuff...
Here's how to open one... VERY neatly (So neatly, I did it over a white towel... No Mess)