of Elderflower Cordial, or living off the land

You’ve just licked the last gummy bit of rhubarb-anise syrup from the lip of your glass and now you need a new delicious drink DIY?

Elderflower cordial, come on down!

It’s a simple but very gentile beverage, the sort of thing I imagine Lord and Lady Grantham sipping at a lawn party at Downton Abbey.  It has a sweet floral flavour, though not as cloying or perfumy as rosewater. But the best thing about making this delicate drink yourself  is the hunter/gatherer high you experience by biking into the forest to find elderflowers. It’s great fun.

Here’s a peek at the elderflower cordial that’s been brewing in my cauldron for the last few days.


fills 3 wine bottle-sized flasks


1 kg/2.2 lbs sugar

2.5 liters/5 pints water

50 g /1.7 oz. citric acid

2 lemons, zested and roughly sliced

30 elderflower clusters


Go out into the world and find some elderflowers, picking only the clusters in full, fragrant bloom. Separate the flowers from the stalks and give them a quick rinse to get rid of any bugs.

In a large pot, bring the water and sugar to a boil, then turn off the heat.

Once the mixture is cool, swirl in the citric acid, lemon zest and lemon slices, and elderflowers.

Cover the pot and let it steep undisturbed for 3 to 4 days. Aside from adding a lovely tang, the citric acid will prevent it from fermenting.

Strain the mixture and bottle up the sunny cordial that results! Keep refrigerated.

Try diluting 1 part cordial with 4 parts water – still or sparkling. A slug of gin and a sprig of mint would also be perfect companions.