Archive recipe: Elderflower Cordial

Elderflower Cordial

Summer of flower power, by Louise Flanders (June 2015)

The exterior of The Thornhill Arms, located in Yorkshire's Calverley

The song Those Lazy Hazy Crazy Days of Summer does not reflect my own summer: that’s just a fantasy for me. Lighter nights extend the days, which allows more work to be done in the business, café, garden and house. Even the chickens’ egg production has increased to an egg a day from the girlies, so I have an abundance of eggs.

We might not celebrate the longest day like the Scandinavians but the taste of elderflower as a refreshing cordial or a cocktail captures the essence of summer. While out on my daily walk with Monty, my golden Labrador, bag in hand, I have been foraging the elderflower which grows wild along the hedgerows.

You should try to pick the flowers on a dry sunny day when they are almost in full bloom. Don’t, however, be tempted to pick them all: when the flowers turn to berries later in the year several other – even more delicious – drinks can be made.

The beautiful white, lace-like, delicate flower head that we use as an ingredient in this recipe has a wonderful fragrance but the taste is simply glorious. The cordial itself can be used in many ways, from relieving nasal congestion to making a delicious sorbet.

All you need to do once the heads have been shaken – to rid them of insects – is to cut the flowers from the large stem and then they are ready to use. I am giving you two drinks: one is a cordial, which can be frozen, enabling you to enjoy a taste of summer during the winter months; it might even help if you catch a cold. The other drink is an elderflower cocktail, just perfect if you’ve time to enjoy a lazy, hazy, crazy summer day.

Ingredients for cordial

  • 20 elderflower heads
  • 1kg white granulated sugar
  • 1 litre boiling water
  • 45g citric acid
  • 2 large unwaxed lemons, sliced.

Ingredients for cocktail

  • 25ml elderflower cordial
  • 50ml gin
  • Slice of lemon and cucumber
  • 150ml soda water
  • Ice


Destalk the flowers from the stem and shake them, to ensure they are insect-free.

Pop the sugar in a large pan and pour in the boiling water, then stir until all sugar has dissolved.

Add the citric acid once the sugar has dissolved, and stir.

Add the lemons and elderflowers and cover.

Leave to stand for about five days, stirring daily.

Strain through a sieve lined with muslin, then pour into sterile bottles.

The cordial can be kept in a fridge for up to three months, as long as it is kept in airtight containers. If you wish to freeze it, pop the cordial in plastic bottles, leaving a little room at the top of the bottle to allow the cordial to expand as it freezes. You can serve the cordial with still, sparkling or tonic water.


English summer cocktail method:

Mix all ingredients together and enjoy!


Back to all recipes