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Monkey Paw

In celebration of Chinese New Year we decided to try our hands at a Monkey Gland. Horrible name, delicious cocktail! We re-named it the Monkey Paw so we could get over the name. This cocktail is a great excuse to make your own grenadine, which is a million times better than that artificially colored and overly sweet stuff on most grocery store shelves. I tend to associate grenadine with the Shirley Temples I occasionally got to drink as a child but in making my own I found the ingredients to be much more interesting and flavorful. You might look at the ingredient list and be a little scared, but I’m sure with some sleuthing you should be able to find everything on the list! We live in a small college town in Iowa, but are lucky to have an incredible little Pakistani, Indian and Middle Eastern grocery store that carries all the ingredients I needed to DIY some grenadine (it also serves incredible food like Paneer Burritos and perfect kofta). There are a few recipes floating around for homemade grenadine but when it comes to bar basics we tend to trust Jeffrey Morgenthaler, who has drinks down pat.

Now, about the Monkey Paw. If you look at the ingredient list it all seems pretty straightforward…until you hit the absinthe bump. The thing about absinthe is that it has a complex licorice flavor that really cannot be substituted any other way, and in this drink it truly brings all the components together. So, you must find good absinthe and fork over some cash for it. But, there are so many fantastic cocktails that call for absinthe that I think it’s an entirely justified addition to your home bar.

Homemade Grenadine (recipe scaled down from here)

  • 1 cup fresh pomegranate juice (juice your own or buy a bottle of POM)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange blossom water

In a small saucepan over medium heat gently stir the pomegranate juice, pomegranate molasses and sugar until the sugar is dissolved and everything is well mixed. Remove from heat and stir in the orange flower water. Pour into a clean plastic squeeze bottle and label; use in one month or add a shot of vodka to help it keep a bit longer. Cool and store in the fridge.

Monkey Paw (recipe adapted from Imbibe)

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Monkey Paw
Recipe type: Cocktail
  • 1½ oz gin (such as Ransom Dry Gin)
  • 1½ oz fresh clementine juice (or orange juice)
  • 1 teaspoon homemade grenadine
  • 1 teaspoon simple syrup (1:1)
  • 1 teaspoon absinthe
  • Orange twist garnish
  • Cocktail glass
  1. In a cocktail shaker combine all the ingredients and shake well.
  2. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with an orange twist. Cheers!
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Dior Kelley

Dior was born in Hawaii and spent her childhood in many wonderfully inspiring places including New Zealand, Sri Lanka and California. She studied Chemistry and Printmaking at UC Santa Cruz and got her PhD in Plant Biology from UC Davis. Her love for experimentation and precision (she studies hormone signaling in plants) carry over into crafted cocktails and homemade delights. Currently, she lives in Iowa with her husband, French Bulldog and a flock of hens.

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