Elderflower Cordial Cocktail: An Herbal Champagne Drink
Now that we have our elderflower cordial decanted and sweetened, let’s use it in a traditional drink from northwestern Europe: an Elderflower Cordial Cocktail: An Herbal Champagne Drink. This is really easy, and it is a refreshing cocktail for any summer celebration where the heat or a midday meal might make you otherwise think twice about having a cocktail.
You might want to serve some homemade potato chips and this cocktail to lighten up any garden party or summer celebration. The bubbles and the salty-crunchy will be a big hit!
Be sure to download my Summer Party Planner from the Seasonal Living Resource Library!
The delicate and aromatic elderflower has a rich culinary and herbal tradition.
The Elderberry Shrub (Sambucus canadensis) is a bush native to most places in North America. It is a lovely native plant that blooms lacey and aromatic flowers in May and produces deep purple berries in June. All of the elderberry shrubs at Stony Ridge Farm are wild. They line old fencelines and offer a beautiful buffer between property boundaries. It is also native to Europe and has a long herbal tradition.
The elderflower has gained notoriety of late as Meghan Markle chose them as the theme and flavor for her wedding cake during her marriage to Prince Harry.
The flavor of the elderflower is unique and often defies description. I say it tastes like honey and flowers, there is something like a pear in the aftertaste. It is a beautiful flavor that matches its lovely appearance.
Here is a close-up view of these lacey, flavorful early-summer delights. You can see how they make a perfect wedding (or summer party) theme!
What is a cordial?
For our purposes, when making an elderflower cordial cocktail with champagne, we are referring to a method of preserving herbs in alcohol and then sweetening the final product. Herbal cordials are made when the leaves, fruits, or roots of various edible plants are submerged in an alcohol like vodka or brandy for at least a month, and then sweetened with a simple syrup to taste.
These herbal cordials are then enjoyed in small portions as an aperitif or as a flavoring to another beverage. In this case, we will be flavoring champagne with our own handcrafted elderflower cordial. Here’s how we made it.
What is a cocktail?
When used to refer to any generic alcoholic mixed drink, the cocktail may mean any beverage that contains three or more ingredients if at least one of those ingredients contains alcohol. ~ Wikipedia
I also enjoy mocktails, which use concentrated teas and flavored syrups along with something like sparkling water to create a refreshing, flavorful, and sometimes medicinal drink. Check out this post from another blog on 15 mocktails made with garden herbs.
Cocktails follow certain flavor profiles: citrus based, sweet fruits, hot coffee or tea based, savory, etc. This elderflower cordial cocktail has a floral profile that is slightly sweet.
For a savory cocktail, check out my garden fresh Bloody Mary recipe!
This elderflower cordial cocktail recipe calls for a sparkling white wine. I am recommending a champagne, one from the Champagne region of France. This doesn’t need to be expensive, but I think going for the real deal makes your event or meal an occasion. The elderflower deserves champagne! I asked my local vintner to recommend a champagne good for mixing cocktails and he selected a variety under $15. It was tasty, the labeling classic, and very affordable.
You may choose Presseco, the sparkling white wine from Italy. Be sure when choosing a Presseco to make sure it is on the dry side. Some Proseccos are sweet. We don’t want that.
Vinho Verde is a sparkling white wine from Portugal and is very light and fruity. After champagne, this would be my second choice!
Spanish sparkling wine is Cava. Also very yummy.
Choosing your glass.
Cocktail glasses are all the rage. I love choosing the right glass for my drinks as much as I love handcrafting them. For this Elderflower Cordial Cocktail, you’ll want to choose a champagne flute. This glass will give you the best bubbles and open up the aromas of the elderflowers.
These are affiliate links to items I use when organizing a summer garden party. I hope you find them helpful for your planning and entertaining!
A bottle of sparkling wine or Champagne
Your elderflower cordial
2 lemons for zest
Chill the Champagne/wine and the glasses (if you like, but not necessary). Zest the lemon peel into 1-inch strands that can be twisted into a corkscrew shape.
Fill a Champagne flute with your wine to 3/4 full. Add about a tablespoon of the cordial and let the effervescence calm. Then, add the lemon zest and a couple of the elderberries (if you choose to use them). Sip while enjoying one of those nicely salted potato chips.
This is called indulgence, and we all need such moments now and again.
You can adjust this recipe to minimize the amount of alcohol consumed or the cost of the drink. Here are a few recommendations:
- Use a white wine like Pinot Grigio and sparkling water instead of the Champagne. If you choose this option, use a white wine glass instead of a Champagne flute. Fill the glass half full of wine, add the cordial to taste, add a few ice cubes. Top with sparkling water and lemon zest and berries as you like. This is very refreshing without the danger of overindulging!
- Use Preseco, the Italian sparkling white wine, and follow the original directions. This will be a sweeter drink…as you like it, I say!
- Forget the wine and just add a shot of the cordial to some fancy sparkling water with the lemon zest and berries. Very refreshing and festive!
Which recipe did you use? How did you like it?
I recommend using this recipe as the center attraction of a summer garden party. Be sure to check into the Seasonal Living Resource Library and download the free Summer Party planner! There’s a scad of other resources worth checking out as well!
Sign up using this form!
Join the library!