This easy Tomate cocktail recipe has just has two ingredients plus water and ice. Though you’ll be tempted to drink this refreshing drink on a hot summer day, it’s also the perfect color to serve at a Christmas party or other festive event.
Despite having a name that literally translates to tomato, the Tomate cocktail’s only relationship to the juicy red fruit is its vibrant red color.
It’s true. The Tomate has absolutely no ties to tomato juice-based cocktails like America’s Bloody Mary or Canada’s Bloody Caesar. Instead, the France’s Tomate is a popular pastis cocktail typically imbibed in the French Riviera and throughout the country.
Discover our favorite French cocktails.
What Is A Tomate Cocktail?
If you see somebody drinking a bright red cocktail in Marseille or along France’s southern coast, it’s probably a Tomate cocktail made with Pastis de Marseille and Grenadine. Local bars serve the quirky drink all day long and into the night.
Don’t underestimate the Tomate cocktail. It’s a drink to sip and not gulp despite its fun color and fruity flavor. This potent potable packs a punch thank to its main ingredient – pastis, a liquor with a minimum 45% ABV.
French mixologists started using pastis instead of absinthe in the early 20th century due to fears that thujone in absinthe caused drinkers to experience bouts of madness. Although absinthe producers have since reduced the use of the chemical thujone found in wormwood, pastis remains popular in France and beyond.
If you count the Tomate cocktail’s ingredient list on one hand, you’ll have too many fingers. The compact list has just the following four items:
Even if you add garnish like a rosemary sprig or fennel fronds, the ingredient list stays succinct. Unlike the above ingredients, garnish is completely optional.
With so few ingredients, it’s important to use high-quality products. In our Tomate recipe, we use Ricard Pastis de Marseille and Monin Grenadine that we buy at our local liquor store. Accordingly, our drink is technically a Ricard Tomate.
Discover our favorite grenadine cocktails.
Now produced by Pernod-Ricard, Ricard Pastis de Marseille has been a popular alternative to absinthe since 1932. Ingredients like star anise, licorice and Provençal herbs give this French liqueur its distinctively herbaceous flavor.
We like to use Monin Grenadine in our Tomate recipe since Monin uses natural ingredients like pomegranate, cane sugar and orange flower water while eschewing corn syrup and artificial sweeteners.
Although the French word grenade translates to pomegranate, many commercial grenadine producers don’t include pomegranate juice in their syrups. As an example, Rose’s Grenadine includes high fructose corn syrup and red dye instead of pomegranates to create its popular grenadine syrup.
How To Craft A Tomate Cocktail
You don’t need fancy equipment to craft a Tomate cocktail at home. In fact, the list of necessary bar equipment is even shorter than the drink’s ingredient list. Our Tomate cocktail recipe just requires a glass, a jigger and a bar spoon.
We recommend that you follow our recipe closely your first time. We came up with the 2 to 1 ratio of pastis to grenadine after following a few disappointing Tomate recipes that were either too sweet or not sweet enough.
You’ll then be ready to modify our Tomate cocktail recipe to your personal taste. Experiment by adjusting the ratio of grenadine to pastis as well as the amount of water you add. You can also get creative with garnishes like mint, rosemary and fennel fronds depending on what you have in your pantry.
If you run out of grenadine and use orgeat (almond syrup) instead, you’ll be making a Mauresque, another popular French pastis cocktail. However, your cocktail won’t be red.
Budget two minutes to make each Tomate cocktail. We recommend drinking this pastis drink with nuts, olives or other tasty tidbits you have in your pantry.
We also recommend watching the sun set between sips. This approach is the next best thing to drinking a Tomate in Marseille but without the need to get on a plane or translate a menu.
Discover 10 essential bar tools for the home mixologist.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Tomate was invented in France
Pastis, Grenadine, Cold Water and Ice
The Tomate is stirred, not shaken.
We like to serve this cocktail in a highball glass and you should do the same.
Did you craft this cocktail? If so, please rate the recipe below.
- 2 ounces pastis
- 1 ounce grenadine
- cold water
- ice (one large cube or several small cubes)
- 1 sprig rosemary (optional garnish)
- Pour pastis and grenadine in a lowball glass.
- Gently stir.
- Add ice.
- Top off with cold water.
- Optional: Garnish with a rosemary sprig or other green herb.
- We recommend using a lowball glass. You can tweak the ingredient sizes if you prefer to serve this drink in a larger glass.
- You can adjust the drink’s sweetness by adding more or less Grenadine.
- You can adjust the drink’s potency by adding more or less water.
- Pair with olives or nuts.
Thirsty For More French Cocktails?
About The Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website. Since launching the site in 2012, they’ve traveled to over 40 countries in their quest to bring readers their unique taste of the world.
Original Publication Date: November 11, 2020