Smallholders Insurance from Greenlands

Author Topic: Cordials  (Read 4807 times)

Norfolk Newby

  • Joined Aug 2009
  • West Norfolk, UK
« on: September 23, 2010, 10:29:39 am »
I know cordials are meant to be non-alcoholic but I like mine with alcohol. I suppose I could refer to them as infusions but that sounds like a herbal tea.

In case you haven't got the idea yet, what I do is take some strong alcohol - a bottle of cheap vodka for example - and add berries or herbs to make a flavoured alcohol. It's not brewing but the end result is similar.

A couple of suggestions.

A half-pint mug of elderberries washed and drained added to 1 litre of alcohol for a week or more then strained makes a rich fortified wine-like drink.

Sloes (obviously) take a similar process but it's worth waiting a bit longer, say 6 weeks.

Two sprigs of rosemary (about the size of a ladies hand), a similar bunch of basil leaves, a small pinch of thyme (not too much - it makes the flavour harsh) and a dessert spoon of dark sugar in a litre of alcohol. This produces a drink like vermouth (Martini) with a slightly Christmasy flavour (to quote my daughter). Leave the herbs in the alcohol for a week before straining then add the sugar.

All these can be drunk immediately after the infusion is finished but can stand for a few months as well. I keep the alcoholic content high when storing in order to prevent any decay. The drink can be diluted in the glass after all. All the recipes here are just a starting point from which to develop your own favourites.

The vermouth mix is a useful flavouring for sauces when cooking as an alternative to fresh herbs and the berry based drinks can be added to ice cream or dessert sauces.

I tried strawberries, blackberries, blackcurrants but the results, while very pretty pink, didn't taste of much. Perhaps a longer infusion would have helped.

I should mention that I try to use fruit and herbs that I grow or at pick myself. That makes the process seasonal to some degree. Even the herbs are best picked when growing strongly so they aren't very good in the Winter!

Novice - growing fruit, trees and weeds


  • Joined Jun 2010
  • Yorkshire
    • A Small Holding
Re: Cordials
« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2010, 01:05:02 pm »
I like the 'vermouth' one and will definately have a go at that - thanks!

I did Blackberry Vodka a couple of years ago and, as you say, it didn't taste of much...until....
It had been sat on the shelf just over a year and we tried it just after Christmas this year when I was 'tidying' - nice!

What alcohols do you use? I'm assuming gin & vodka?


  • Joined Aug 2012
  • Clackmannanshire
  • Qui? Moi?
    • ABERDON GUNDOGS for work and show
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Re: Cordials
« Reply #2 on: September 23, 2010, 01:14:37 pm »
Try whisky (cheap as chips type that you wouldn't normally drink - my hubby used to call it cooking whisky)  and raspberries or brambles.  It does need to be left a good while to absorb the berry taste, but it's quite yummy even if you don't like whisky like me.
Always have been, always will be, a WYSIWYG - black is black, white is white - no grey in my life! But I'm mellowing in my old age


  • Joined Apr 2008
  • Mablethorpe Lincolnshire
Re: Cordials
« Reply #3 on: September 23, 2010, 03:56:51 pm »
I like the sound of the  vermouth type thing but what do you make it in, presuming that you use a bottle of spirits?

Norfolk Newby

  • Joined Aug 2009
  • West Norfolk, UK
Re: Cordials
« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2010, 03:40:04 pm »
My 'regular' alcohol is Morrisons own brand vodka. I dilute it slightly when making these drink because I rinse the herbs after they have been in the alcohol in order not to waste any. Similarly with the berries, After they have been in the alcohol for the correct period, I strain off the liquid and then add water to the pulp so that I can squeeze out all the alcohol and flavour.

This means that the vodka is about 40 to 43% initially and as a result of adding a little water, the alcohol content drops to about 35% and the volume increases to 85 cl (75cl initially).

I use a wine bottle to do the infusing. This is fine with berries which are small or crushed but it can be tedious to get sprigs of herbs out so it is worth stripping the rosemary off its stems and just using the basil leaves not their stems in the mixture.

A little trick. If the alcohol (vodka, gin, whatever) has a flavour that you don't want, you can remove or at least reduce it by adding some crushed charcoal which you then filter off.  I use small pieces of charcoal left in the grate of my wood burning stove for this as I only burn clean ash logs so I am pretty sure the charcoal is chemical free. I use about two heaped dessert spoons of small pieces in a bottle of vodka.

Charcoal has the ability to soak up organic compounds like colouring and flavours which is why it is used in the fancy little water filter cartridges and gas masks. It only needs to be in the alcohol for a few minutes (say 10 - 15) in order to do this cleaning trick.

I use a Melitta coffee filter to take out the charcoal after. It is completely harmless so it won't spoil anything PROVIDED it is clean to start with. I don't burn dirty, painted or chemically treated wood in my stove for this reason.

Novice - growing fruit, trees and weeds


  • Joined Sep 2010
  • Fife
    • Facebook
Re: Cordials
« Reply #5 on: November 10, 2010, 09:47:09 am »
I make damson gin but try and leave it a full year to mature if possible - unlikely this time as I only had my own wee tree to source from and only 1 bottle made ::)  Once done, the alcohol infused fruit is reused too  :yum:
Barleyfields Smallholding & Kirkcarrion Highland Ponies
Ellie Douglas Therapist


  • Joined Mar 2011
Re: Cordials
« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2011, 07:59:10 am »
How much sugar?


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