What does grenadine taste like and is it bad for you?

Grenadine is a non-alcoholic bar syrup best known for the pretty pink color it imparts to drinks such as the rum runner, the Ward 8, and the cherry blossom, although it may be best known for the starring role it plays in the grandmother of all mocktails, the Shirley Temple. Grenadine can even move outside the bar and into the kitchen, prettying up desserts with a pink-hued whipped cream, and adding flavor to cranberry sauce.

Its flavor profile is meant to be both tart and sweet, reminiscent of the pomegranates from which it was originally derived — grenadine gets its name from the French word grenade, or the Spanish word grenada, both of which mean pomegranate in their respective languages. Some of the more commonly-available brands of grenadine, however, contain no pomegranate juice whatsoever, in favor of high fructose corn syrup and food dye. These tend to have a taste which has been compared to cherries, and is heavy on the sweet without much tart. In fact, some unhappy taste-testers have even likened the cheap stuff to cough syrup.

While food snobs — er, discerning connoisseurs — may decry the artificial nature of pomegranate-free grenadine as one of the ills of the modern world, with the Culinary Alchemist food blog going to far as to call it a "poison" which the American public has been "tricked" into consuming, artificially-flavored grenadine actually dates back over 100 years. Not such a surprise, perhaps, when you consider that pomegranates, then and now, have always been rather a pain to peel and juice (although we suggest you try this helpful pomegranate-peeling hack).

As to whether grenadine is bad for you — well, it is a sugar syrup, not a health tonic. The nutritional data provided for the popular brand Rose's Grenadine shows that a serving of two tablespoons has 80 calories, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 20 grams of sugar, and the product also contains artificial coloring and flavoring, as well as high fructose corn syrup. Keep in mind, however, that many recipes using grenadine call for just a splash, which could be less than half of Rose's given serving size. 

While grenadine is probably not something you're going to want to add to your kale smoothie, if you're putting it to its intended use of adding just a touch of flavor — and color — to a mixed drink, then no, it isn't any worse for you than anything else in that cocktail shaker.