Herb cordials

Most of us have got a few pots of herbs growing around the house and garden and sometimes, just sometimes, all they do is just look pretty as we might not have a favourite recipe to use them. For me it was my lemon verbena. I love the smell of it, I just couldn’t imagine using it in the kitchen, don’t ask me why. Then at a summer flower show, on a really hot day when I desperately needed a pick-me-up, I found the Plants4Presents stand and was handed a glass packed with ice and lemon and filled with lemon verbena cordial and iced water. It was absolutely delicious. A fantastic, refreshing summer drink that assuaged my thirst and lifted my spirits.

Herb and botanically infused alcohols, especially gin and vodka are all the rage, so whether you want a beautiful herb cordial or to pep up a summer cocktail, here are the basic recipes courtesy of Plants4Presents.

A refreshing summer drink topped with flowers. Image: Plants4Presents

To make a basic sugar syrup:

  1. Heat one cup of sugar with one cup of water over a low heat.
  2. Once dissolved, add 3-4 tablespoons of either lavender flower buds or another fragrant herb of your choice (lemon verbena, thyme and rosemary all work particularly well).
  3. Simmer for 10 mins then cool and strain into clean, sterilised, sealable glass bottles. Can be stored in the fridge for at least 2 weeks.

To make a refreshing lavender cooler

Pour 50cl of vodka, 25cl of lavender syrup over ice in a tall highball glass or large wineglass. Slice 2 calamondins in half, squeeze into the glass and then add the squashed fruits too.

Top with soda water and garnish with a sprig of lavender to stir and your favourite edible flowers.

Variations: You can use any sweet orange, lemons, limes or kumquats in place of the calamondins and this works great with a range of other herb syrups.

Try lemon verbena syrup or even shop bought elderflower cordial for a refreshing summer drink. It’s delicious without the alcohol too.

These drinks taste as good as they look! Image: Plants4Presents

To make the infamous ‘Gin-a-licious’

Start with a good handful of ice in a cocktail shaker. Add 50cl gin, 50cl of lemon juice (approx 2 large lemons) and 25cl of your favourite herb syrup.

Shake, strain and taste – you can add more sugar syrup, lemon juice or gin as preferred at this stage.

Serve in a chilled martini glass with an ice cube and a sprinkling of borage and cornflowers. Enjoy!

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