Cordials are a lovely way to bring a sense of joy and delight to taking herbal medicines. The word has several meanings, but a cordial generally refers to an alcohol-based tincture that is sweetened and has culinary appeal. Cordials were once commonly used in herbalism, eventually evolving from medicinal preparations to the more recreational liqueurs we know today. These tasty medicinal tonics are made for sipping and enjoying. The word cordial comes from the Medieval Latin word cordiālis, meaning “of the heart.” As the name suggests, these pleasant medicines are traditionally imbibed to lift the spirits and warm the heart.
Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.) enhances this effect, as the plant is a gentle and supportive ally for the heart, both physically and emotionally. It is also a calming nervine that can soothe frayed nerves and ease the ragged edges of the heart during times of sorrow. Steeped in rich mythological and folklore traditions, the legendary hawthorn tree is a powerful ally for healing, opening, and protecting the emotional heart. This easy recipe can be sipped for pure enjoyment, for comfort during a time of grief or heartache, or for support on a journey of inner healing. It can be enjoyed on its own or, for a fun twist, made into a bubbly herbal spritzer!
3 ounces (about 1 cup) hawthorn berries, dried
8 ounces brandy
¾ cup honey
Mix together the honey and brandy. For ease, you can measure out 8 ounces of brandy into a liquid measuring cup and add honey until the mixture reaches 13 fluid ounces. Stir until well combined.
Place hawthorn berries in a pint-sized Mason jar and add the brandy/honey mixture, filling the jar to the top. Cover and shake well. Label with the date and name of the preparation.
Keep an eye on the jar for the first few days. As the berries expand in the liquid, there may be some seepage from the top of the jar, so you might want to keep it on a towel or in another vessel at first. Open the jar after a couple of days and see if you need to top it off with more brandy; try to minimize exposure of the berries to oxygen by keeping the jar filled to the top with liquid.
Store out of direct sunlight for 4-6 weeks. Shake the jar daily to keep the maceration process active throughout this time.
Strain out the berries with cheesecloth and store your finished cordial in a cool, dark place.
You can enjoy this simple-but-delicious cordial by itself; I like to pour it into a shot glass and sip slowly, especially on chilly evenings. Or I make a spritzer by adding a shot (1 ounce) of the cordial to a drinking glass and then fill it with sparkling water to taste. Stir well and add ice for a light, refreshing beverage that is perfect for the summer months!
Sarah Baldwin is the author of The Herbal Healing Deck, an oracle deck offering guidance and wisdom from the plant world. She is a writer and editor for The Herbal Academy and makes her home in the rolling hills of southern Indiana. Her website is www.seraphimbotanicals.com.