DEFINING CORDIALS

Lime Cordial

Lime Cordial

The most common confusion I encounter when I talk cordials is that people think I am making a liqueur. The word “cordial” can mean several things, one of which is a liqueur, and another which basically means syrup. The syrup one is the focus of this article.

CORDIALS AND SYRUPS

Generally, I use the term “cordial” when the syrup is fruit/citrus juice based, (e.g. Lime Cordial) When it is an infused sugar and water base with little to no acidity, I generally use the term “syrup” (e.g. Ginger or Rosemary Syrup).  But I often call the pineapple cordial a pineapple syrup. I have the same issue when talking about orgeat, horchata, and non-dairy creams.

PURPOSES AND BENEFITS

The primary purposes and benefits are providing the bartender and consumer with delicious, natural, quick and concentrated flavor vehicles for drinks and cocktails of all kinds. When you want lemon, you’ve got lemon. Appel’s Lemon Cordial is like liquid lemon oleosaccharum. It gives you the lemon aromas, flavor, sugar and acid that juice alone doesn’t. The same thing holds for Lime, Grapefruit and others.

Cordials aren’t meant to be a replacement for fresh juices, but, rather, compliment a fresh juice program and provide a ready made, non perishable workhorse ingredient that can be used in classic or improvised drinks on the fly behind a busy bar or at home.

Highballs made with club soda and spirit are perfect for cordials where a fresh juice may fall flat.  It also gives the bartender/consumer the freedom to control the sweetness or intensity that you can’t expect from a packaged flavored soda  The riffs are endless and easy once you realize their utility.

Another benefit is their long shelf life. High acid, high sugar, low water cordials are naturally resistant to spoilage (how sugar acts as a preservative) and thus you are able to make them far ahead of time for use when you need them. The original idea behind making these cordials was based on research my father, Gary, and I did on the preserved lime cordial that was used by the British Navy to stave off scurvy (Preserved Lime Juice Cordial and the Gimlet). Minus the sulfites used in Rose’s Lime Cordial, this is a natural means of preserving juices for future use and keeping waste to a minimum.

One more benefit is that they add concentrated flavor, aroma, sugar and acidity with no extra added water. This means you wont over dilute your cocktail and work perfectly in drinks that are naturally diluted (sodas and blender/frozen drinks).

They pack a lot of flavor in a small amount. They expand in your glass with the ice and spirits/soda diluting the cordial and the cordial modifying the spirits or soda. This concentrated, low water syrup also means they really shine when used in frozen drinks. They stand up beautifully to the ice required for blender drinks without watering them down, making the frozen drink that a straw stands up in. Non-alcoholic, frozen Lemon Slushies in the summer are outstanding… just add some gin or rum to make them into perfect boating drinks.

CASE COMPARISON

The Gin Gimlet

To make a perfect lime cordial based Gin Gimlet all you need is 2oz London Dry Gin and .5oz of homemade lime cordial, stirred or shaken, strained up or served on the rocks. This is an Americanized version and there are many valid versions of the Gimlet. But this is my favorite recipe in that it squarely emphasizes the gin with the lime cordial playing the only supporting role. They work beautifully together in this fashion.

This is a 4-1 ratio, but the lime packs a punch and really expands. The ice expands both the spirits and lime, and the spirits expand the lime. Easy and real. Perfectly balanced. Delicious.

The differences between a standard Gimlet made with fresh lime juice and simple syrup and one made with lime cordial are subtle and several.

In a fresh lime Gimlet the simple syrup, combined with lime juice, leaves a bigger liquid footprint in your drink. Even in small amounts like 1/2 oz lime and 1/2 oz simple, you now have a combined ingredient that is half your Gimlet. This changes the texture of the drink to one that can be refreshing and delicious, but one that I believe is more often imbalanced because of the lack of bartender attention to the simple syrup/lime juice ratio (Sugar Syrup In Cocktails) and by it taking up a larger portion of your drink. You could add more gin, but this then begins to get a a little unwieldy for most people. With a 2 oz gin pour, this often leads to the gin being overwhelmed by the mixers with the mixers too often starting out imbalanced in the first place. If you are using 1 oz of lime juice in a drink that only has 2 oz of spirit, with the addition of sugar to balance that much lime juice, in my opinion, your drink will be a mess. But balanced with a small amount of lime juice and rich simple (1/2 oz each), it is still a great drink. More like a gin daiquiri than what I think of as a gimlet, but delicious and refreshing.

Plain juice also doesn’t impart the natural lime oils derived from the lime zest that lime cordial does. One way around this and the use of juice/simple syrup in Gimlets is by pre-making fresh lime sour.

1 Part Fresh Lime Juice, Zest of Lime, 1 Part Cane Sugar

Mix until dissolved. This technique compacts your lime/sugar flavor vehicle while bypassing any added water. It also allows you to pour or jigger only the sour you need, rather than add juice and simple syrup in separate actions. It’s pre-balanced and ready to mix. If you want 3/4oz of mixer to the 2 oz of gin and do it separately, you need a minsicule .375oz each of simple and juice and this gets ludicrous to hand measure/jigger.

GIMLET (LIME CORDIAL)

2 oz London Dry Gin

1/2 oz Lime Cordial

Ice/Melt

GIMLET (FRESH LIME/SIMPLE)

2 oz London Dry Gin

1/2 oz Fresh Lime Juice

1/2 oz Rich Simple Syrup (2-1)

Ice/Melt

GIMLET (FRESH LIME SOUR)

2 oz London Dry Gin

1/2-3/4 oz Fresh Lime Sour


CORDIALLY PRESERVED

ACID  WATER  SUGAR  pH  HEAT

Two Types of Cordial

Making lemon or lime cordial is straightforward since the acidity is more than able to balance the sugar needed. But when using sweeter fruit (e.g. grapefruit, pineapple, etc) as the base, we encounter a problem.

Sweeter citrus requires more acidity to balance the sugar needed for the preserving and the textural qualities of a good cordial. Using citric acid would be an easier and much cheaper way to increase the acidity, but I prefer an all juice base for my cordials. My preferred choice, then, is fresh lemon juice. Plain fresh lemon juice acts as a natural and neutral base acid mix for these kinds of cordials that are too sweet to accept the required amount of sugar.

Heat

Most of these cordials are slowly heated to a temperature of 180F. In my earlier trials making lime cordial I over heated the syrup by bringing it to a simmer and that had a detrimental effect on the flavor, aroma and color that I was looking for. Easing the cordial into this below-simmer level of heat is necessary for several reasons; concentrating the juice/sugar mixture into a syrup over time with some evaporation, keeping the colors and flavors vibrant without browning (maillard effect and caramelization) , aiding in anti-microbial effects by thermal process, aiding in creating the viscous texture desired by activating the natural pectin in the juices and dissolving the sugar with minimal inversion. The heat, sugar, acidity and low water content all add up to a very spoil resistant syrup.

Sugar Inversion

Inversion of sugar, in this case, is the breakdown of sucrose into glucose and fructose when it is mixed and heated in the acidic fruit juices used to make cordial. I prefer the clean mouth feel of sucrose over fructose, so I don’t want this to become honeylike. The use of fructose in the American soda market is one reason that Mexican Coca Cola has become so popular in the U.S. The data on taste differences is mostly anecdotal and the corn syrup industry denies any taste difference between sucrose and high fructose corn syrup, but I can easily tell and so can most other people. (Huffpost Taste Test) Fructose gives honey and agave nectar that palate coating effect (honey is up to 40% fructose and agave nectar can be up to 90% fructose!). It’s great in hot remedy drinks for sore throats, but that coating effect leaves a cloying, lingering and overly sweet taste that, I think, makes it unpalatable in most drinks that aren’t medicinal in purpose.

Any health issues surrounding sugars are beyond my expertise or the scope and point of this discussion, but my philosophy is that balance is not only a necessity in food and cocktails but also for body and soul.

No Water

No extra water is ever added to any cordial, except in the those where cranberries are used. Cranberries are high in acidity and pectin and need a little added water to bring out the juice and offset the thickening effects of the pectin. But, for the most part, the only liquid used in cordials are the base juice or the base juice and modifier (lemon juice). This keeps the percentages of acid and sugar at the level you want flavor-wise and also preservation-wise.

Evaporation is also a desired effect for further concentration. The slow heating means more time evaporating.

All of these things (time, real juice, heat, evaporation, etc.) add to the overall cost but also add to the quality and taste of your crafted cordials.

Note: the pectins, along with other super fine particulate matter that isn’t strained from the juices, will add a naturally colored opaqueness to your cordial that I actually find pleasing, not off putting. The cordials could be clarified and juice extraction increased by using a pectin enzyme, pectinase, that is used in brewing and wine making, or by using a centrifuge, or egg whites etc.., but, again, I prefer to be minimal and natural in these recipes so I do not use anything but fine, double straining.

I am not opposed to any of these techniques or additives, as long as they do not compromise the taste or texture of the final product.

Acidity and pH Level

The pH level of most of these cordials is generally just above 2, which means they are high acid syrups. Combined with the high percentage of sugar added to the juices/fruit, this makes a very difficult environment for bacteria to live in, let alone thrive in. Any problems would occur if these were lower and this is one reason why lemon juice is added to the sweeter juices so as to increase the sugar level while keeping the acidity levels high. The other reason is for balance, flavor and texture.

NATCHEZ TRACE SUMMER PEACH PUNCH

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In the summer I often make large batches of Bourbon-Peach lemonades for BBQ parties and almost always for the 4th of July. This fun drink was easily adapted and embellished into a slightly more refined punch service for that elegant outdoor summer BBQ picnic or soirée. Of course it will also work at any event you wish, even packing it into a cooler for a beach or pool party, so have at it!

NATCHEZ TRACE SUMMER PEACH PUNCH

15-20 servings

1/2 Liter Bourbon Whiskey

1/2 Liter VS Cognac

6 oz Orange Dry Curação or Triple Sec

6 oz Peach Liqueur

12 oz Unsweetened Hibiscus Flower and Orange Pekoe Tea

8 oz Lemon Cordial or Lemon Sour (recipes below)

750ml Fruity Rosé Wine Chilled

6 Large Ripe Juicy Peaches + 1 Peach for Punch Bowl

2 Lemons

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Deconstructed Punch

 

CONCEPTS, RATIONALE AND INSPIRATION

The Story

To commemorate liberté, égalité, fraternité between France and the fledgling United States and in celebration of the Independence from the tyranny of British rule with the aid of our French friends and allies, I thought American Bourbon Whiskey along with Fine French Cognac Brandy would be a fine and natural alliance and the sturdy backbone to this wonderful summer punch.

This made me then remember the classic 1949 film, The Fighting Kentuckian, starring John Wayne as John Breen, the the leader of a band of Kentucky Militia making their way home after the Battle of New Orleans, circa 1816. The militia and John Breen get sidetracked in the assistance and defense of a group of French exiles and settlers in Alabama and by the beautiful Fleurette de Marchand. In the end, the bad guys are defeated, John Breen gets his fair maiden and Fleurette gets her Fighting Kentuckian and I imagine this would be the punch served at their nuptials and party. The blend of rough and tumble Kentucky back woodsman and cultured European aristocracy in alliance on the battle field and in love…and, of course, in the spirits of Kentucky and France.

And that brings us to The Natchez Trace. It was a 440 mile ancient and historical trail leading from Natchez, MS to Nashville, TN and linking the Tennessee Valley with the Mississippi River in the south and was the gateway to the deep south, the gulf, and trade and exploration. I imagine Natchez Trace as a good part of the way back home for the Fighting Kentuckians, but it was the real highway for the many traders, Native Americans, and explorers of the day between the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

 

The Punch

Whiskey and Cognac go together like John Breen and Fleurette de Marchand.

and

The substitution of lemon cordial in place of the stalwart of punches, the oleo sacharrum, adds part of the sweetness you will need for this punch, along with the wonderful lemon aromas you want that plain lemon juice is always missing. The cordial also adds the acidity and depth of lemon juice, much like a lemon sour, along with the aromatic benefits of the oleo. This then does the work of several ingredients in a natural and concentrated form.

The recipe for lemon cordial is in a previous article. It is a little bit of a process, but the ingredients are simple and it is well worth the effort since you can make a large amount and store it in the refrigerator with no degradation in taste or aroma and with a veritable unlimited shelf life.

The addition of a fruity summer wine adds length and body to the punch, filling in the cracks without the use of plain water.

The addition of unsweetened hibiscus tea adds a floral note and the extra needed acidity to balance the liqueurs.

The addition of peach liqueur adds sweetness along with a spirited peach flavor.

The addition of orange liqueur adds some more sweetness and plays a citrus supporting role for the lemon.

The addition of ripe peaches is all American and a staple of southern drinks and desserts. The natural stone fruit aromas, juice, flavor and appearance go with everything in this punch. There are peaches that will be macerated in Bourbon and Cognac and strained out and fresh sliced peaches added to the punch bowl.

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Assorted antique glassware

For the Punch Service I like a large glass bowl, but I do not like the little cups. So I get oddball antique/second hand glassware from resale shops. They should be very inexpensive. Goblets, dessert glasses, ornate wine glasses, etc..All different sizes and shapes and colors. The look blows the little cups out of the water and is a ton more fun.

 

THE PROCESS

Decant the Bourbon and Cognac into a large glass jar or Cambro container, large enough to hold the spirits and peaches. Something similar will do as long as it can be sealed and is non-reactive.

Small dice 6 fresh peaches and add to the container of spirits. Add the orange and peach liqueurs to the container. Allow to rest for 2 to 4 hours or overnight is even better the night before. Agitate the container from time to time.

After the peaches are done macerating in the spirits, strain the spirits off and place spirits in container in the refrigerator or on ice in a cooler until chilled and needed. Save the macerated peaches to add to punch goblets or snack on later. Do not throw them away!

While the peaches are macerating, make the hibiscus tea. Add 1.5 oz of dried hibiscus flowers and 4 orange pekoe tea bags to 20 oz of hot water and steep for 10-15 minutes. Strain this and allow to cool and chill in refrigerator until needed. This will be more than needed for the punch but extra is good to have if you want to add more or use in a lemonade.

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Dried Hibiscus Flowers

Lemon cordial should already be made, but if you haven’t had a chance to make it, the following is a quick sour version that will work perfectly.

EXTRA LEMONY SOUR

8 oz Fresh Strained Lemon Juice

8 oz Cane Sugar

Lemon Peel from Lemons to be juiced

Wash and zest/peel the lemons and set the lemons aside.

Fine chop the lemon peel and set aside.

Slice and juice the lemons.

Strain the juice.

In a non-reactive bowl, add juice and sugar and mix until the sugar has dissolved. This take a bit of stirring, but it will dissolve.

Add the lemon peel to the lemon sour mix and cover. Glass mason jars work great for this. Chill in refrigerator until needed.

Strain the lemon peel when needed.

This can be made the night before.

This will make approximately 12 oz of sour mix. To make more just use the 1-1 ratio for the sour and increase. This is the perfect base for making fresh lemonade for your party as well, so make more than you need for the punch and make some lemonade for those who don’t imbibe or are just thirsty.

-Idea-

Add any unused hibiscus tea to the lemonade

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Peaches, Lemons and Hibiscus

Building The Punch

If possible have all the ingredients already chilled before building the punch. Wine, spirits, cordial/sour, tea.

I suggest getting a block of ice that can be chipped into large chunks for the punch. If not available, large clear cubed ice works best. You want large pieces that don’t melt too fast, but do melt. Too small and they melt too fast. Too large a block and it just sits there not melting and not chilling.

Slice thin lemon wheels and set aside. Thin slice chilled peaches any way you wish to be added to the punch and set aside.

Add the large chunks of ice to the punch bowl to begin chilling the bowl and melt off a little bit. In another container large enough for the punch, add all the spirits, tea, cordial/sour and wine and mix together. Taste for consistency and adjust for your taste if necessary.

Pour this over the ice in the bowl and stir lightly to even the temperature. Float the lemon and peaches on the punch.

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Enjoy!

Voilá!

Serve!

Bon Soirée!

Happy Independence Day

 

 

 

 

APPEL’S CITRUS CORDIALS

 

My line of citrus cordials began 2 years ago with a need to replace Rose’s Lime Juice in my Gimlet Cocktails with a quality Lime Cordial. After searching for recipes to no avail and experimenting by the seat of my pants, I have a Lime Cordial…and Lemon and Grapefruit that are what I want in my drinks. They are all hand crafted and natural. No preservatives or chemicals. Non alcoholic. No added water. No coloring. Just pressed citrus, cane sugar and citrus zest in my proprietary method.



 
THE CLASSIC GIN GIMLET
 
2 oz Beefeater Gin
.5 oz Appel’s Lime Cordial
 
Hard shake or stir. Strain into chilled cocktail glass or on the rocks. 
 
Lime wheel garnish optional
 
 
 
GRAPEFRUIT HIGHBALL
 
2 oz Beefeater 24 Gin
1 oz Appel’s Grapefruit Cordial
Club Soda
Large Cubed Ice if possible
16 oz Glass
 
In a shaker tin chill the Grapefruit Cordial and Gin. Strain into highball glass filled with ice. Top with soda. Mix gently with an iced tea spoon pulling from bottom to top . Garnish with a grapefruit peel.
Splash of Campari optional




THE BACKHAND

2 oz Tanqueray Gin
.5 oz LEMON CORDIAL
.75 oz PIMM’S
 Brunoise cut of hot house cucumber (2 slices about 1/8 inch thick, then brunoised)


Hard shake. Strain over fresh iced rocks glass.