Elderflowers have been a staple ingredient in the traditional medicine of many cultures as they are high in vitamin C and believed thought to have antiseptic, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties thought to protect against colds and flu, sinus infections, and other respiratory conditions.
There is also plenty of mythology related to elder trees. Some believe the elder wards off evil and gives protection from witches. If an elder tree is cut down, a spirit known as the Elder Mother is said to be released and take her revenge, so the tree can only safely be felled while chanting a placating rhyme to the Elder Mother.
In popular culture an elder wand plays a pivotal role in the final book of the Harry Potter series, which was reputed to be entitled Harry Potter and the Elder Wand before author J. K. Rowling decided on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
Lyme Bay Winery’s elderflower drinks
Sourcing local, natural ingredients is at the heart of much of what we do here at Lyme Bay, and nothing signals the approach of summer for us as much as elderflower picking from late May onwards. Come sunny afternoons our pickers head out to collect the beautiful elderflowers from the hedgerows at a time their pollen is at its optimum and they are at their most pungent.
The whole flowers go straight to soak on a wine base for 4-6 weeks to allow the fragrant elderflower aromas to establish, making our light, crisp and beautifully refreshing Elderflower Wine. An off-dry wine with a floral bouquet, it is great chilled as a popular picnic or lunchtime wine, and holds a Gold Great Taste Award.
But Elderflower Wine is not the only tipple we make from the beautiful blossoms of this hedgerow favourite. We combine elderflowers with cucumber to make our light and refreshing, limited edition Annings Elderflower & Cucumber Cider, as well as mixing them with gooseberry to create our Gooseberry and Elderflower Wine, which makes the perfect accompaniment to salads, fish dishes and even spicy food.
For spirit-supping connoisseurs we have crafted Lyme Bay Elderflower & Cucumber Gin, best served with a premium tonic and a slice of cucumber. The heady aromas of elderflower combined with the succulence of cucumber are structured around the foundational gin botanicals of juniper, coriander and angelica to create a crisp gin that perfectly encapsulates the lush, floral character of the English countryside.
And then there’s our Elderflower & Lemon Vodka, made from hand-picked elderflowers steeped on vodka with a small amount of sugar and zesty lemon juice to enhance their delicate floral flavour.
Make your own elderflower wine
If you fancy making your own elderflower wine, it takes a little patience, but the results are well worth the effort. You will need:
- 1 pint of elderflowers (flowers only, no stalks)
- 8 pints boiling water
- 3lbs sugar
- Juice and grated rind of a lemon
- ½oz yeast
Add the lemon rind to the elderflowers, pour boiling water over them and stand for four days, stirring occasionally. Strain the lot through a muslin or fine sieve, then stir in the sugar, yeast, and lemon juice. Ferment at room temperature, and when it looks like any bubbling has stopped, give the liquid a stir and leave it to settle for three days. Give it another strain before transferring it to a demijohn to mature for three months, then bottle it up and give your friends a call for a sampling session.
Elderflower cocktails and spritzers
If you can’t wait that long to enjoy the heady delights of elderflower drinks, here’s a couple of mixes that should do the trick.
You can make a delicious elderflower gin and apple cocktail by topping up a shot or two of Lyme Bay Elderflower & Cucumber Gin with your favourite West Country apple juice and a couple of slices of chilled cucumber, and serve over ice.
For a longer, refreshing drink, mix our Elderflower Wine with your preferred proportion of chilled soda water, add a slice of lime and some crushed mint leaves, and serve with ice for a simple spritzer.
Order elderflower drinks from Lyme Bay Winery
If you’ve never tried anything stronger than an elderflower cordial and you’d like to try some of our more grown up elderflower drinks then you can place an order with us and we will ship some out to you faster than you can wave your magic wand.
Although we can’t offer sampling at the moment, our wonderful Winery shop is open on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays from 10am-4pm, Tuesdays 10am-2pm, and you can also order drinks from us online and take advantage of our regular monthly discounts. If you order by 2pm we endeavour to deliver within the next two working days.
In the meantime we love to see your ‘drinkspirations’ via our Instagram, Facebook and Twitter pages, so do let us know how you have mixed up your elderflower drinks.