The hedgerows and parks are groaning with elderflower right now. Turn urban forager with Selina’s easy cordial recipe from last summer.

Designated driver… pregnant… Dry July… there are times in life when you’re going to have to stay booze-free. But what’s a girl to drink when she feels like something a little fancy?

Yes, there’s posh ginger beer, but there’s only so much frizzante a lady can take. Enter elderflower cordial: quite possibly the one cordial that feels like a grown-up drink. And with its sweet but subdued scent courtesy of those tiny white blooms that have such a fleeting season, it’s summer in a bottle.

Here in the UK, elderflowers are currently making their annual cameo appearance – so pick a bunch of blooms and make your own cordial. Rock up with a bottle of this homemade stuff and you’ll be the coolest teetotaller at the barbecue.

If loitering around hedgerows in search of elderflower blooms isn’t your thing, try your farmers’ market. You’ll need at least 10 large heads to make a nice little batch.

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I prefer unrefined sugar to make my syrup, so the colour is much deeper than what you’ll get from a store-bought cordial. You’ll also need some jars or bottles – sterilise them first by boiling them – if you’re using Kilner jars, you can boil the seals too.



10-15 large elderflower blossom heads (Traditionally, you just give these a shake to remove any insects, but I give mine a light rinse. Blasphemy!)
1L water
1kg brown sugar or unrefined golden caster sugar
1 lemon, juiced
1 orange, juiced

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1. Combine the water and sugar in a large pot and bring to the boil. Simmer until the sugar is completely dissolved and you have a lovely thick syrup.
2. Remove from the heat and add the lemon and orange juices. Stir to combine.
3. Submerge the elderflower blossoms in the syrup, cover and allow to sit at room temperature overnight to infuse.
4. Strain the syrup into your sterilised jars or bottles. Stir into iced water to sip on a summer’s day.

PS: When your shift as designated driver is over, reward yourself for being so virtuous with an Elderflower Collins, which combines Elderflower cordial with a naughty nip of gin.

Photography & styling (main image): Emma Scott-Child 
Additional photography: Selina Altomonte