One of our favourite books is THE DRUNKEN BOTANIST by Amy Stewart. There is such joy in her writing about the plant world and all the plants that create the world's greatest drinks. Plants offer so much to gin enthusiasts and we think one of the most delectable botanical additions to a Gin Cocktail is Elderflower. The flat topped cluster of honey scented flowers make a remarkable liqueur and a superb cordial...or even champagne. And we can make it at home as the plant is a classic hedgerow tree found in gardens, and urban wasteland alike ready to come into bloom as we move from May to June. So here is a small Welsh Sisters guide to gathering and making Elderflower Cordial and Liqueur ready to get creative with our summer cocktails.
Preparation is key.
Choose your Elder tree and work out the best time to gather the blooms.
As we look out now at our Elderflower tree the blooms are not quite ready to be picked but once the sun comes out we would like to be ready to pick the blooms quickly to capture the warm day so we are going to gather our equipment ready to go......this is what you will need.
Sterilised bottles with stoppers
Elderflower Cordial Ingredients
2 lbs Sugar
2 pints of Water
15 heads of Elderflower
2 sliced oranges
2 sliced lemons
2 sliced limes
1-2 Teaspoons of Tartaric Acid
Once you have gathered the fresh Elderflower heads you can make the cordial.
Put the sugar and water in a saucepan and slowly bring the sugar and water to boil until the sugar dissolves. Remove the stalks, shake out any bugs and drop into the sugar syrup and bring to the boil. Meanwhile put the sliced orange, lemon and lime in a large bowl. with Tartaric Acid. Take the syrup mixture off the boil and pour over the fruit. Stir well and leave for 24 hours to cool and steep. Remove the excess fruit and flowers and pour through a muslin into a bowl or jug. Decant into bottles and seal and put in the fridge ready to use. The bottles can last up to 3 months.
Elderlfower Liqueur ingredients
80% proof Vodka
Sterilised Bottles and Stoppers
To make your own liqueur fill a quart jar with ripe Elderflower clusters and cover with 80% Vodka. Tightly close the jar and store for a month out of direct sunlight. After 30 days strain out and discard the solids. Most Elderflower Liqueur is 40% proof so to turn the Vodka mixture into a lower alcohol liqueur combine equal parts Vodka with sugar syrup. 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water will make approximately 1.5 cups of Sugar Syrup. To make the Liqueur add the Vodka mixture and Sugar Syrup mixture is equal parts.
The Fun Part ....Gin and Elderflower Cocktails
Now you have a fridge full of summer delights you can experiment! To start why not try .....
1.5 measure Welsh Sisters Gin
0.5 measure Elderflower Cordial
Juice of half a lime
Rosemary sprig to garnish
Mix all the ingredients in a shaker and pour into a chilled Martini glass and Garnish. To add more flavours why not muddle Cucumber and Thyme in the shaker before adding the ice.
And for a gin and Elderflower Liqueur Long drink ...
Elderflower and Maraschino Club Soda
1 Measure of Welsh Sisters Gin
1 Measure of Elderflower Liqueur
I measure of Maraschino Liqueur
0.5 measure Lemon Juice
150 ml Soda Water
lemon to garnish
Fill a tall glass with ice add gin Elderflower liqueur and Maraschino Liqueur and lemon juice. Stir. Top with Soda Water and garnish with Lemon.
The Elder Tree has always been associated with the Feminine principle - sometimes known as Mother Elder. In ancient tales witches were rumoured to have turned themselves into Elder trees and they are also associated with the fairy world too. An old Welsh Custom was to make a stencil of the Elderflower leaves on the newly painted kitchen floor to ward off evil spirits and on the eve of St John (21st June) and at Samhain (October 31st) the elder tree is believed to attract the spirits from the Other world and people would dance amongst the trees. So lets raise a toast to generous Mother Elder and all that she bestows!