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.
For juicing larger quantities of wineberries, you can use a potato ricer lined with cheesecloth, or a food mill.
You can replace the spiceberries with half of the peel from a medium-sized orange.
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