I grew up sipping on sickly sweet Shirley Temples that stained the tongue the shade of Red Lake #40. Every time the adults busted out their exclusive 'adult-only beverages' my sister and I would fashion a little drink of our own, one that no adult would dare sip for fear of a perma-red ring forming around their lips. A splash of 7-Up, a swig of electric red grenadine, and as many maraschino cherries as our grubby fingers could fish out of the jar - this was the recipe for our ultimate kids-only drink.
This summer, as I longed for the days of my youth (minus the inevitable crash from the sugar-high) I dreamt of a Shirley Temple with a natural red hue that was bursting with the flavors of the wild. I schemed and plotted in anticipation of wineberry season, sure that July would bring the perfect replacement for the maraschino cherry. With the cherry replacement down, all I needed was a newfangled grenadine to splash over some seltzer water, but I struggled to find the right recipe.
I stumbled upon just the grenadine I sought in This is Camino, a cookbook about a seed-to-stem restaurant out in California. I had tried several grenadine recipes before but was unsatisfied with their high sugar levels and lack of flavor. This recipe, however, relied on reduced pomegranate juice to create a depth that you just can't get from red sugar water. The Word Nerd part of me was pleased as well - the name grenadine comes from the French word grenade, or pomegranate, which was the original base of the syrup.
Once I had the base recipe down I decided to swap out the conventional orange peel for some spiceberries, the fruit of Lindera benzoin. I often think of spiceberries as Orange-Plus or even Warm Spice-Plus. Spiceberries have notes of citrus, allspice, clove, and more, all packaged in one teeny tiny berry. I added just enough to give the grenadine a mysterious note, but not so much that it overpowered the pomegranate.
Once wineberry season rolled around, I gathered up some of the sticky-sweet fruits to figure out the best way to finish off my foraged Shirley Temple. The first attempt, lightly muddled wineberries, left me with a mouth full of seeds, cursing the fact that I had just used my last piece of floss. This led me to try juicing them. Despite their minute stature, the wineberry packs a hefty flavor punch, so even just pressing a small handful through a strainer yielded enough juice for a single Shirley Temple.
With that, my creation was complete! Sipping happily on my patio, it felt like I had done my best to transform my childhood nostalgia through the lens of the wild realities of my current life. I can only imagine how my summers would have been had I sipped on wineberry Shirley Temples as a child instead of a drink more suited for a hummingbird feeder.
You can easily scale this recipe to serve a crowd.
A tart and deeply flavored grenadine syrup with a hint of the wild. Be sure to use 100% pomegranate juice for the best flavor. This grenadine is also great in alcoholic drinks such as Tequila Sunrises or Hurricanes! The recipe is adapted from This is Camino.