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August 1, 2014
by Jenn Detweiler

Deep summer in the orchard: early mornings and long days, honey bees drunk on peach nectar, wildflowers in the hedgerows, old wooden crates, their handles worn smooth by decades of rough palms hefting loads of sun-warm fruit .

This heady mix is a sensory cocktail of summer in the orchard here at Rural Ridge.  It also culminates in a big thirst at the end of a long day of picking fruit and summer pruning; what better excuse for a cocktail that is essentially summer in a glass?!

Cocktails are often mixed with ingredients so exotic, they couldn't hope to be local, but with so much wonderful local cider to take advantage of this summer, why not keep your mixers local, too?  The elderflower cordial used in this recipe is simple to make at home from the ubiquitous elderberry plant (see recipe at page bottom), but if you didn't get yours made before the blooms turned to berries this year (usually April/May here in central VA), you can find it at Brightwood Farm's table at the Charlottesville City Farmers' Market on Saturdays.

Cider Breeze:

(based on a recipe from

Serves 4

700ml of a locally made, dry to semi-dry sparkling cider (we used Albemarle CiderWorks' Royal Pippin)
100ml gin
100ml elderflower cordial
crushed ice, to serve
2 green apples, thinly sliced- look for these as early as late July in Virginia

1 Place cider, gin, and elderflower cordial in a jug and stir to combine.
2 Fill 4 glasses with crushed ice, pour in cider mixture, add a tiny splash of lime juice (optional), top with apple slices, and serve.

To Make Elderflower Cordial:


Makes about 1 quart of syrup.

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

1 quart water
4 cups sugar
2 Lemons, sliced thinly into rounds
1 teaspoon citric acid (available at most homebrew stores)
25 elderflower heads, stems removed (about 2 cups flowers)

Snip off the flowers from the stalks into a large bowl or bucket that will hold everything. Try to remove as much of the stems as you can; they are toxic. A few stray bits of stems will not hurt you, but you want to minimize it.

Add the lemon slices to the bowl, then the citric acid.
Bring the sugar and water to a boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve. Let the syrup cool enough so that you can stick your finger in it without getting burned. Pour the syrup over the flowers and lemons and stir to combine. Cover the bowl or bucket with a towel and leave it for 2 days.
When you are ready, strain it through a fine-meshed sieve lined with cheesecloth or a paper towel into a clean Mason jar. Seal the jar and store in the fridge.

For more cider cocktails, visit our Pinterest page!

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