How to Make a Cordial
Cordials…what are they? They seem like syrups? Well, that’s because essentially they are…HOWEVER to truly be a Cordial, there should be some notion that it was produced with a “health benefit” in mind.
Probably the most famous Cordial of all, would be the Lime Cordial, thanks to the fame of the classic Gimlet cocktail. It was taken onboard ship by the British Royal Navy from 1867, as part of the Merchant Shipping Act. This was part of their ongoing battle with the lethal effects of scurvy. A condition brought on by a lack of vitamin C in the diet, that will eventually kill you in a most horrible fashion, if left unchecked.
The lime cordial replaced the use of fresh limes, which had replaced fresh Sicilian lemons. Fresh lemons in the sailors diet had successfully irradiated (virtually) scurvy from the British Royal Navy during the Napoleonic War. (They very wrongly assumed it was the acidity of citrus fruit that killed the Scurvey, as vitamins weren’t discovered until 1932). So, perhaps the original Gimlet was actually mixed with fresh lemon juice. Sadly we will probably never know!
This cordial was produced by Lachlan Rose. The direct precursor to what we know today as Roses Lime Cordial or Roses Lime Juice (in the US). The idea was that a cordial would last longer at sea, unlike fresh fruit.
Truth of the matter was that lime cordial stored in wooden barrels at sea really did not preserve any vitamin C that’d made it into the cordial. To be fair, not knowing vitamins existed made it pretty hard for them to preserve them too! However, the age of steam brought shorter voyage times, and sailors tended to enjoy better nutrition whilst on land. Together, this meant that the lack of vitamin C was not really noticed, unless you were a polar explorer of course!
So, much as making a Gimlet by shaking together gin, fresh lime juice and sugar (like a Ginny Daiquiri), is a delicious modern version. If you’re a bit of a booze nerd, you’ll want to try stirring your Gimlet with lime cordial for the traditional experience. You also won’t be happy with Roses or any other off-the-shelf cordial either. You’ll want to elevate your lime cordial game and make something at home.
We guessed this, and have therefore provided you with two of our original lime cordials. One, to make a reinvented classic Gimlet, and the other to make a more floral, modern style Gimlet.
We say Gimlet, yet, feel free to experiment with other recipes using these cordials too…and share with us your successes!