In Season - Elderflower Cordial

Richmount Elderflower CordialGeorgina Campbell

For years I’ve been banging on about the shortage of good Irish-made non-alcoholic drinks - and, specifically, a quality commercially produced elderflower cordial that would be available all year round like the imported ones.

Many people have been making seasonal batches in recent weeks but, while it’s a joy to find home made elderflower in restaurants and country houses around the country in summer, it’s never made in very big quantities - and this is a versatile drink that should be on every drinks list, all year round.

Topped up with copious amounts of water or sparkling water, elderflower cordial makes a wonderfully refreshing long drink and is just about the only one that a non-drinker won’t find cloying when drinking it in the same way as white wine - as an aperitif, with food, or throughout a party or an evening at the pub.

So, when I found the Richmount Cordial Company’s Elderflower Cordial at the Sheridans Irish Food Festival in Carnaross this May, it was the highlight of my day.

It's made by David and Martina Burns of Carrickboy, Co. Longford, who are well known for their innovative approach to farming and food production. They won a Euro-Toques award for their sweet corn a couple of years ago, so maybe it should be no surprise that they're now into another unusual venture.

A former dairy farmer, David discontinued milking because he didn’t have the acreage to expand his herd to the necessary size, and turned his hand to other farming enterprises.

However Martina, a former teacher, was a dab hand at making elderflower cordial and, following encouragement from chefs and friends who tasted it, they decided to go into commercial production in 2013.

They planted a large number of elder saplings to augment the wild elderflowers freely available in surrounding hedgerows - and are helped by local people, who are given very specific picking instructions and paid €3 per kilo. In the height of the elderflower season, in June, it’s a race against time to get the fresh flowers harvested in peak condition on dry days.

The cordial is made from an infusion of flowers in a sugar and lemon syrup, which is then filtered, bottled, pasteurised and packaged for distribution. Just like homemade cordial, the colour varies according to the time of picking - flowers picked early in the season produce a paler cordial than later ones. It is a simple, traditional process, using fresh natural ingredients and ‘no concentrate or artificial sweeteners, flavourings, additives, colourings, or sulphites’.

David and Martina are very health conscious and aware of the need to control sugar intake but, as only a small splash of elderflower cordial is needed to turn a large glass of water into a delicious drink, that should not be a problem. And it is certainly an appealing alternative to alcohol.

You will find Richmount Elderflower Cordial at many of the country’s best speciality food stores and there is a list of stockists on their website (

Elderflower & Lemon Drizzle CakeRECIPE: Elderflower & Lemon Drizzle Cake

Elderflower cordial is also a versatile flavouring for use in cooking, adding a light fragrance to syrups for fruit salads and other desserts, and a taste of summer to baking - as this pretty cake from the centeranian baking supplies company Dr Oetker shows.

175 g plain flour
2 tsp dr. oetker baking powder
175 g butter, softened
175 g caster sugar
3 medium eggs, lightly beaten
1 tblsp dr. oetker select vanilla extract
dr. oetker orange & lemon slices, to decorate

For the cream filling

350 ml double cream
3 tblsp elderflower cordial
1 tsp dr. oetker natural lemon extract
2 tblsp icing sugar
For the drizzle
225 g icing sugar, sifted
3 tblsp elderflower cordial


Heat the oven to Mark 5/190°C. Grease and base-line three 18cm sandwich tins.

Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl.

In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar using an electric whisk.

Gradually beat in the eggs and vanilla extract to the creamed butter and sugar, then fold in the flour.

Divide between the three tins and bake for 15-20 minutes until risen, golden and firm to the touch.

Leave to cool in the tins before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the cream filling, whisk all the ingredients until thick (don’t over-whip). For the drizzle, stir the sugar and cordial together until smooth.

Sandwich the cake together with the cream, pour over the drizzle and decorate with lemon slices.

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