I recently learned how to make cordials, and I'm obsessed.
Cordials are alcoholic herbal drinks, often sipped before or after dinner as a digestive tonic. You can make flu and cold cordials, insomnia cordials, celebratory and aphrodisiac cordials. They make a great host gifts at dinners and holiday parties.
Cordials have a high alcohol content, so they should be imbibed in small sips out of port or madeira glasses.
You can also use cordials when cooking - adding them to desserts similar to a vanilla extract, or to flavor marinades and glazes. Pour it over ice cream and fruit, or add to morning pancake batter (the alcohol wears off when cooked).
The concept of a cordial is to combine an alcohol with herbs, and add in a sweetener at the end. You can use any kind of alcohol like vodka, brandy, or port wine. For this recipe, I used bourbon.
You can use fresh or dry herbs. I used dry, but fresh herbs have more flavor and nutrients. Or you can mix them together! Another option is to add fresh or dried fruit.
Fill the jar with herbs (approx 3/4 full), pour alcohol over herbs to cover, seal tightly, and store in a dark cabinet for at least a month to allow the herbs and alcohol to infuse. Occasionally check to make sure the herbs/fruit are completely covered in alcohol - add more if necessary.
After the ingredients have infused for a month, strain the solids from the infused liquid with a strainer or cheesecloth. Now you have an herbal tincture that needs to be sweetened to become a cordial. The amount you add is up to you, but for this jar I added 5 tbsp raw honey. Traditionally, you add in one-half part sweetener to a cordial. You could also add maple syrup, stevia, or molasses as natural sweeteners.
Store your cordial in a cool, dark place and it will last for years.
Now comes the fun part! Go ahead and experiment with making different cordials. This particular batch contained rose petals, vanilla bean, cinnamon stick pieces, cardamom, and ginger.
My current batch is infusing chamomile, fennel, and rose petals for their soothing properties.
Go ahead, have yourself a cordial party!
(Adapted from The Herbal Kitchen)
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