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4 Cups Vodka, good quality
2 Cups Dried elderberries
1 Cup corn syrup
2 Tbsp. Glycerin
1) In a clean jug or glass container, add the berries and the vodka. Add the glycerin. Seal the jug or jar and gently shake to incorporate everything. Put in a cool, dry spot and let sit for 2-3 months to let the vodka absorb all the elderberry flavor. Shake the container every week to distribute the berries and vodka.
2) When the liqueur is to your likeness (a deep rich color and rich in taste – yes, taste it), strain the bottle of elderberry through a fine mesh sieve. Press down on the berries to extract as much juice as possible. Discard the berries.
3) Strain again through a coffee filter lined mesh sieve. This will catch any small fragments of berries.
4) In a clean jug or jar, add the corn syrup and the elderberry liqueur. Stir vigorously to incorporate. Taste it. Feel free to add more corn syrup if you need it sweeter. Make it to your liking. If the liqueur needs more body (a thicker mouth feel like syrup) add another tablespoon of glycerin. This gives the cordial the mouth-feel we are used to with sweet cordials and it is completely optional.
5) Bottle and store in the fridge. If gifting, pour into individual decorative bottles and seal. Enjoy.
NOTES: You are in for a treat. My Elderberry Liqueur is a sweet, rich liqueur similar to a blackberry liqueur or port. I’ve used dried elderberries in this recipe because it is almost impossible to find fresh and I didn’t have frozen elderberries. They would definitely be an option to use if you have them. I’ve recently started working with dried elderberries and really love the flavor. The flavor is sweet but a little tart and a cross between blackberries and cranberries. If you too would like to experience the flavor in other recipes, try my Cranberry and Elderberry Sauce and my Elderberry Jam recipes too. If you are a regular on my blog, you know I make homemade liqueurs and cordials every holiday season. I’ve been making them for over 20 years and like to add new flavors to my arsenal of recipes, and this year, it is elderberry.
What is the difference between a cordial and a liqueur?
While the term cordial was formerly used for only those liqueurs that were thought to have a stimulating quality due to the medicinal components of their flavorings, to day the words cordial and liqueur are interchangeable. So, whether you call my drinks a cordial or a liqueur, both words are describing the same thing. They are alcoholic beverages where the base alcohol has been steeped or macerated with some kind of flavor. This can be fruit, herbs, flowers, extracts and/or nuts, and then sweetened. You’ll also notice in many of my homemade liqueurs, I add a vegetable glycerin. This gives the drink that thick, mouth-feel you are used to in sweet cordials. My elderberry cordial is has the glycerin added to great that sweet, thick, almost syrup like quality. Perfect as an after-dinner drink.
What is the difference between liquor and liqueur?
Liquor is the term for alcoholic beverages that are made of grains or any other plants and fermented to a “hard alcohol”. Some examples are vodka, gin, rum, and whiskey. You’ll see in my recipes that I use a liquor as the base for my homemade cordials. In general liquors have very little if any added sugar. You will see different brands introducing liquors to the market that do have flavoring in it. (lemon vodka, pineapple vodka, etc.) But these are still considered liquors. The biggest factor in determining the difference between liquor and liqueurs is the sugar. Liqueurs contain much more sugar and are often used as a flavoring agent in a cocktail or are served straight up as a digestive or after dinner drink. Some would consider it a dessert. Basically, a liqueur is a liquor with added sugar, flavors, and sometimes a lower proof; but not always. Examples of liqueurs are Amaretto, Frangelico, Sambucca and Bailey’s Irish Cream.
Now that you understand the terms, making this elderberry cordial or liqueur is really easy. The most difficult part is the waiting. It takes a good 2-3 months to let the flavors of the dried elderberries seep into the vodka and completely flavor it. You’ll be adding the dried elderberries to the vodka in a clean glass jar or jug. (I use NEW water jugs that have been drained and never used for anything else. This way, no odd flavors are seeping into your liqueurs.) Once you mix the two, just put it in a cool, dry spot for 2-3 months. I start in September so it is ready in December for the holidays and gift giving. You want the liquid to be a rich, deep color. Then, it is just a matter of straining the liquid from the berries. I do it twice to get rid of any small pieces of berry. Then add in the corn syrup and the glycerin for body. Definitely taste the liqueur. Add more corn syrup if you want it sweeter…add more glycerin if you want a thicker mouth-feel (like syrup). If you’ve had a cordial, you know what I mean.
To bottle these and give as gifts, I buy small decorative bottles online, fill them and tie with a bow. You could also use classic swig bottles. Add a label with the flavor on it and gift away. You are going to have many happy friends, neighbors and coworkers. Did you like this recipe? Be sure to try some of my other cordial and liqueur recipes: