Sweet and Red
by Sheila Swerling-Puritt
Valentine's Day gives normally reserved Canadians the chance to celebrate two of my favourite things – love and romance – no doubt enhanced by delicious cocktails! The holiday is intimately associated with two intense sensory experiences: sweetness and the colour red.
On a recent trip to Portugal's beautiful Douro Valley, a grove of pomegranate trees in a winery garden reminded me of that fruit's role in building Valentine cocktails. Besides being sweet and red, the pomegranate was used by Hades, Greek god of the underworld, to seduce Persephone. This sealed the juicy crimson fruit's reputation as a powerful aphrodisiac as well as a symbol of health and fertility. What could be more perfect in Cupid's tipples?
The pomegranate joins the fun in the form of its sweet red syrup, grenadine. (The name comes from the French word grenade, a very un-Valentine-ish-looking word used in English for something originally shaped like the fruit.) Readers of a certain age will remember its sweetness from the Shirley Temple, a non-alcoholic drink that makes young ladies feel very grown up while dining in restaurants with their parents. Grenadine is a component in over 500 alcoholic drinks, the best-known being the Tequila Sunrise (orange juice, tequila and grenadine.)
Most commercial grenadine these days is adulterated with artificial colouring, cherry juice and flavours from the lab, so check the labels before you buy. Home-made grenadine is even more delicious. Concoct your own using one part pomegranate juice to two parts sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil and then simmer until reduced by half. Refrigerate your home-made or opened store-bought grenadine. Unopened bottles should last a year or two.
I was recently introduced to an ultra-premium vodka which tastes amazing on its own and, even better, is reasonably priced at $26.95. It's called Slava, made in the Ukraine, and is distilled four times so doesn't burn on its way down your throat. As I keep my vodka in the freezer, I love that this triangular shaped bottle slips right in among my frozen peas!
- 2½ oz. Slava vodka
- 3/4 oz. fresh lime juice
- 1 dash Grenadine
- Fill shaker 2/3 with ice. Add all the ingredients.
- Shake well and strain into a cocktail glass.
- 2 oz. vodka
- Cranberry juice
- Orange juice
- 1 dash Grenadine
- Pour the vodka into an ice filled highball glass.
- Top with equal parts of cranberry and orange juice.
- Stir. Float the Grenadine on top of the cocktail.
Times Square Cocktail
- 1¼ cups Southern Comfort
- 2 oz. Sweet Vermouth
- 4 oz. Grenadine
- 1 750 mL chilled Bottega Prosecco Brut
6 orange wheels
- Place Southern Comfort, vermouth and grenadine into a shaker with ice.
- Shake well. Strain into a large pitcher. Just before serving add Prosecco.
- Pour into ice filled wine glass and garnish with an orange wheel.
For more information, you can contact Sheila at firstname.lastname@example.org.