Cocktails |  Gooseberry and Elderflower Cordial


Gooseberry and Elderflower Cordial

With elderflowers in full bloom you might be thinking of making your own elderflower cordial but try this version from my latest book How to Drink without Drinking to give it a bit of a twist.

With their delicate creamy-coloured blossoms, elderflowers are so pretty and pleasurable to harvest – the essence of summer. Pick them early on a fine day, not when it’s been raining, and use them as quickly as possible.

You can make the cordial without citric acid if you’re not intending to keep it for long, but don’t overdo the lemon, otherwise it will just taste like lemonade.


10–12 freshly picked heads of elderflower (or more if you pick smaller florets)

600g (1lb 5oz) granulated sugar

600ml (20fl oz) water

250g (9oz) green gooseberries, topped and tailed

2 unwaxed lemons, or 1 unwaxed lemon and 20g (¾oz) (maybe less) citric acid

soda or sparkling water, to serve

Pick over the elderflower heads, trimming the flowers away from the stalk and shaking out any insects.

Put the sugar in a large saucepan and add the measured water. Heat over a low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has completely dissolved. Bring to the boil and add the gooseberries. Simmer for 7–8 minutes, then take off the heat.

While the gooseberries are simmering, finely pare the rind of the lemon(s) and slice the flesh. Swirl the elderflowers gently in a bowl of cold water.

Remove the elderflowers from the water and add to the sugar syrup along with the lemon rind and slices and the citric acid, if using. Stir, lightly cover with a clean tea towel and leave in a cool place overnight.

Strain the cordial through a fine sieve into a wide-necked jug or bowl. Pour the cordial through a funnel into 2 x 75cl) sterilized glass bottles and seal. Store in the refrigerator and consume within a month. You can also freeze the cordial in plastic bottles, though remember to leave some headspace to allow the liquid to expand.

To serve, dilute to taste with soda or sparkling water.

Extracted from my book How to Drink without Drinking, published by Kyle Books. Photograph © Nassima Rothacker. You can read more about it here.

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