DIY Elderflower Cordial Recipe

Photograph: Liam Boylan

Elderflower cordial perks up a drink by adding a little sweetness and a light floral touch. For less than a dollar, you can make a delicious elderflower mixer that tastes a bit like a lemon bar mixed with a light, floral tea.

If you like, use oranges or grapefruit instead of lemons, or substitute honey or agave nectar for the sugar. This mixture is concentrated and non-alcoholic, but you can combine it with vodka or pear eau de vie for an impromptu liqueur.

Note: Dried elderflowers can be found in many Latin grocery stores. Some homebrew and winemaking shops carry them as well. If you have access to fresh elderflower blossoms, do not dry them, as they will produce a more fragrant and delicate cordial when used fresh. You will, however, have to use at least twice as much by volume. Be sure to pick them when they smell fresh rather than when they start to yellow on the plant.

Citric acid powder, also known as sour salt, is easy to find at many markets, but you can order it online from Amazon, too. It not only boosts the acidity of the cordial, but it also acts as a preservative. Meyer lemons can be found in high end grocery stores during the winter citrus season. If not available, half a regular lemon and half an orange can be used in the place of one Meyer lemon.

Recipe Facts

Active: 15 mins
Total: 24 hrs
Makes: 2 cups

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  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup dried elderflowers (see note)
  • 1 Meyer lemon (see note)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons citric acid powder (see note)


  1. Bring the water and sugar to a boil over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat and let this simple syrup cool.

  2. Wash and slice Meyer lemon and place in a sealable glass jar along with the elderflower and citric acid powder. Pour in cooled simple syrup, seal, and shake. Store in the refrigerator for a minimum of 24 hours (and up to 72 hours, if stronger flavor is desired).

  3. Strain your cordial through cheesecloth into your desired container, pressing down to extract all the liquid. Store in a sealed glass container in the refrigerator for up to three months. (If you omit citric acid, store for no more than 3 weeks or until cordial appears cloudy. If you use vodka as a preservative in place of the citric acid, store for no more than six weeks or until cordial appears cloudy.)

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