No doubt you've heard of Belvoir, the British family drinks company, but maybe you don't know that they organise a lovely event every year called the Elderflower Harvest. Around the end of May, they ask people from their local community and three bordering counties to pick flowers for the following year’s Elderflower Cordial production. And YES! pickers get paid for their efforts. This year the harvest is getting a helping hand from BBC presenter Gemma Hunt, who is raising awareness of the event by going behind the scenes at Belvoir Farm.
Picking takes place at Belvoir’s 60 acres of organic plantations and surrounding hedgerows. Within 24 hours of harvesting the flower heads, they are poured into vats and stirred by hand so continuing the 40 year-old tradition of producing Elderflower Cordial. It's still made to the same family recipe. Belvoir Farm was the first company to produce elderflower cordial commercially, a business started by John Manners and his wife Mary, who created the original recipe. The farm was established in 1981 initially to grow ‘pick your own’ fruit because the Manners didn't like to see anything go to waste. It was when they were looking for a way to use unpicked and over-ripe fruit that the idea came to make pure fruit cordials. Great idea! The cordial has to be diluted so one bottle makes up to ten pints which I think is fabulous value.
I love Elderflower Cordial's refreshing taste, it's lovely to drink on its own, or - and you can add it to recipes for cakes or desserts and - this is one I also like lots, you can add a splash to your white wine or cocktails! All Belvoir drinks are made from local spring water and natural ingredients.
Belvoir kindly sent me a couple of bottles of Elderflower Cordial to see what I thought.
And here are three things you might not know about elderflowers
More about the Belvoir 2021 Elderflower Harvest, how paid to pick works and how to get involved at www.belvoirfarm.co.uk. For more on Gemma Hunt and her work with Belvoir, see www.theoutdoorguide.co.uk.
Inspired by G&T but without the alcohol, Sea Arch Drinks produce delicious ready to drink cocktails in cans. Crisp and oh-so refreshing, they are a sensible alternative for times when people want, or need, to be alcohol free.
There are two flavours to choose from. One is Sea & T the other Rose Sea & T and both contain a double measure of Coastal Juniper spirit. Sea & T is topped up with lightly sparkling Indian tonic, while Rose Sea & T is topped up with a delicate rose and raspberry infused tonic. They are designed to be served chilled in a tall glass over ice, garnished with a slice of citrus or fresh raspberry. I tried them both and can say that they are indeed very tasty!
Inspired by the sights and sounds of the glorious Devon coastline, home to founders Sarah and Geoff Yates, Sea Arch Coastal Juniper blend is a healthy, alcohol-free drink that doesn’t compromise on taste. Made from 11 different botanicals the resulting distilled spirit is clean, refreshing, crisp, dry and complex, providing a non-alcoholic alternative for gin lovers.
Case size for trade purchases is 12 cans per case
Stockists include Ocado; Amazon; The Wise Bartender; Sea Arch online shop
Sea Arch Drinks co-founder Sarah Yates says, “Bursting with seaside botanicals, our Sea & T has all the deliciousness of G&T with none of the alcohol. It’s a great addition to the Sea Arch range as the convenient format of a ‘ready to drink’ can means people can simply snap it open and serve, ideally over ice and a slice. This makes the Sea & T an easy and delicious option for occasions when you might be driving or working, or you simply don’t want to drink alcohol. As we like to say, it really is more beautiful without!”
Sea Arch non-alcoholic distilled spirit is crafted using traditional distillation techniques and created with complex, natural botanicals including sea kelp, samphire, cardamom and blood orange with the alcohol gently removed. Sugar free Sea Arch can be enjoyed with a clear head, a clean conscience and – always – plenty of ice. It’s as uplifting as a walk on the beach… and just as good for you.
Pataka Ginger Liqueur, produced using Fairtrade root ginger and 100% Fairtrade sugar, adds an exotic, fiery, spicy touch to a cocktail. It's a perfect warmer for these chilly winter evenings, but that's not really surprising, after all, Pataka means 'firecracker' in Punjabi.
I received a bottle of the golden liqueur from the nice people at Mangrove UK to see what I thought.
So, what's my verdict?
It has a cockle- warming flavour which reminded me of old fashioned ginger sweets. It is fresh, fragrant, appealingly fiery and pleasantly smooth. Since it contains no extra flavouring or spices, there is no chemical aftertaste at all. Definitely a great addition to any drinks cabinet.
And here are some recipes from Mangrove UK that you can try
Mulled Ginger: for when mulled wine needs an extra kick
Warm a glass of red wine in a pan, add 30ml Pataka, a slice of orange and a cinammon stick. Good to go!
East Side: a short shaken glass of fiery goodness
Add ice to a shaker with 40ml Pataka Ginger Liqueur, 10ml navy strength gin, 25ml fresh lime juice, 8 mint leaves and 10ml sugar syrup. Shake and strain into a glass.
Fire Cracker : simple but full of flavour
Pour 50ml Pataka over a tall glass filled with ice and top with ginger ale.
Pataka ginger liqueur can be used in lots of cocktail recipes, so if you have any brilliant ideas that you'd like me to share, do let me know and I can add them here.
Master of Malt
The Drink Supermarket
The brand is owned by French company Ethical Wine & Spirits and developed jointly with MANGROVE in the UK.
EWS is dedicated to producing high-quality spirits sourced ethically and sustainably.
I'm Gilly, award winning journalist and author of 12 books. Published credits include the Telegraph, Daily Mail, CNN, Daily Express, Country & Town House, The Scotsman, The Sun, Woman's Own, Lonely Planet, etc