Strawberry and rose geranium cordial and lemon and fig leaf cordial
My yardstick for a refreshing drink is whether you would drink it while playing tennis. Even though tennis is a game I haven’t played since I was 16, the courtside drink that comes to mind always contained some smashed fruit with a high water content. Pimm’s No. 1 Cup always nailed the brief when combined with lemonade or dry ginger ale in a glass brimming with cucumber, strawberry, watermelon and mint. It’s one of those drinks that could either be a daytime refresher or a night starter with the addition of clear spirits.
It’s easy to have this style of drink on hand by creating what is essentially a cordial. These bases are very easy to make and live quite well in the refrigerator for weeks. I will commonly base each one on a fruit and then experiment with different botanicals such as rose geranium, elderflower, lemon leaves, rosemary, fig leaves, pepper berries or bay leaves. Most of these botanicals can be found around your neighbourhood. I have a particular dislike of the description “foraging”, which sounds to me like something that can only be practised if you are born with a snout. I prefer the term “not paying”. Not paying does move into a legal grey area according to fence lines et cetera, but generally my main research is focused on plant identification and assessing whether the plants have been sprayed with pesticides. A few blogs and apps actually show where public fruit trees are growing.
To serve these drinks, muddle the mixture prior to pouring it into glasses over ice. My ratios are usually one part gin, one part soda, two parts cordial. Add fresh cut fruit if desired.
Strawberry and rose geranium cordial
- 1kg strawberries
- 300g sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1400ml water
- 20 rose geranium leaves
- 150ml red wine vinegar
- Wash and hull the strawberries then chop them roughly and place in a steel or glass bowl with half the sugar and the salt.
- Crush the mix lightly with a fork or similar to break the structure of the fruit and let macerate at room temperature for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, bring the water up to the boil with the rest of the sugar then remove from the heat and let it come back to about 80 degrees before tearing or bruising the rose geranium leaves in your hand and adding them to the syrup.
- Let the syrup come back to 60 degrees before pouring it over the strawberry mix with the vinegar, then transferring into bottles. Generally these cordials are most fragrant after two days in the refrigerator.
Lemon and f ig leaf cordial
- – 1kg lemons
- – 300g sugar
- – pinch of salt
- – 1400ml water
- – 10 young fig leaves
- – 100ml rice wine vinegar
- Wash and chop the lemons roughly before combining them with half of the sugar and the salt in a metal or glass bowl. Let the mixture macerate for 20 minutes.
- Crush the lemons with a rolling pin or similar to muddle a little. Meanwhile, bring the water up to the boil with the rest of the sugar before bringing the syrup back down to 80 degrees.
- Crush or bruise the fig leaves in your hand then add them to the syrup. Let this syrup come back to 60 degrees before pouring it over the lemons with the vinegar. Stir and then transfer into glass jars for storage.
This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on December 1, 2018 as "Cordially yours".
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