Drinking your Flowers
Elderflower-Champagne Sorbet

Serves 8

Elder trees produce lovely white flowers in summer. For centuries, the flowers have been made into a cordial with a hauntingly beautiful flavor reminiscent of the muscatel grape. Champagne was a popular drink throughout Victorian meals (especially with women) and sorbets were often served as palate refreshers between courses, I combined elderflower cordial with champagne in this sorbet. You can make this up to a week ahead of time.


1 cup water
3/4 cup elderflower cordial, available in specialty food stores and online
1/2 cup sugar
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 cups medium-dry champagne or other sparkling wine


  1. Combine the water, cordial, sugar, lemon juice and zest in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook until the sugar dissolves, about 10 minutes. Remove, stir in the champagne and let cool. Strain into a flat metal dish, cover and freeze until solid, several hours or over night.
  2. Cut into cubes and transfer to a food processor and pulse until smooth. Return to the freezer. Repeat again.
  3. Before serving, reprocess briefly and using a small size scoop, serve in small glasses.


SIDEBAR: Cordially Yours

A “cordial” originally referred to a medicinal liqueur thought to have a stimulating effect due to its flavorings. Today the terms cordial and liqueur are used interchangeably. In England, they are often sweetened, non-alcoholic syrups dissolved in other liquids.

I add the cordial to champagne instead of cassis for a magical-tasting drink.