Cordially Yours

Cordially Yours

Two summers ago, I took a cordial-making class at my very first Pennsic. It was great — admittedly, at the time, it was basically an excuse to drink someone else’s booze. I barely knew what a cordial was but took a friend and was pleasantly surprised. The class itself was actually really interesting and I ended up way more engaged in it than I had expected to be. I have to admit, I liked the idea of a project that was, essentially, set-and-forget. Cordials are easy to make; they just take a long time for results, so you need patience.

I made some cordials with pears from my family’s ranch last year. I aged them five months (primarily by putting them in a closet and forgetting about them) and took them with me to Gulf Wars to pour for people. They were a pretty decent hit at Gulf Wars. The pears did not add much flavor themselves, but the spices I put in with them were a big hit.

I finally started making cordials this year in a more serious way, now that I’m back in a real city and have access to alcohol at bulk rates (thank you, Ye Olde Costco). My family’s garden is yielding some amazing fruits and veggies, too, so I have been putting those to good use.

Cherry, Blackberry, and Watermelon cordials

I’m using either vodka or brandy for most of my cordials. Brandy is generally the alcohol of choice for in-period recipes, but vodka is also quite popular as a vessel for flavor since it has no real flavor of its own.

Watermelon, cubed and in the jar.

Doing the cordials now means I can let them sit for months before A&S competitions or Inter-Kingdom Brewing Guild competitions. My hope is to bring most of these to either Gulf Wars 2018 or Pennsic 2018.

Fruits I’ve been using for the cordials:

  • Watermelon (20 lb watermelon from my family’s garden)
  • Blackberry
  • Strawberry
  • Black cherry
It's hot.
Cayenne Cordial

And since I reside in the stellar kingdom of Ansteorra, I decided to make a few… more dangerous cordials. These peppers all came from my family’s garden.

  • Cayenne
  • Poblano
  • Jalapeño 
Peppers galore

Unlike normal cordials that are allowed to stew for at least a month, if not more, peppers need to be strained about a week after being placed in the alcohol. I’ll be adding sugar water to these in a few days and start the next round of the aging process. It should be interesting.

I keep track of the recipes in my SCA notebook. These all get transferred over to a spreadsheet, which is being stored in the cloud. 

Cordial notes from my notebook

At the moment, I currently have more than six gallons of cordials working. It’s a lot of booze, but I trust my SCA family can help me dispose of it.

Fruit and Berry Cordials, hard at work.

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