notes from maggie's farm
farmstead strawberry basil cordial
Enjoyed alone, or in concert with other spirits (like champagne) or mixers (like ginger ale), this herb-ally fruit concoction packs a little punch, and is just the thing to sip after a meal, on late spring evenings, as we sit on the porch, and let dinner 'settle'.
The dishes can wait.
A cordial is a sweet liqueur, often flavored by fruit. In the United Kingdom, the term "cordial" may be applied to nonalcoholic drinks as well, provided that they are sweet and viscous. Famous cordials include amaretto, cointreau, peppermint schnapps and crème de menthe. Cordials are made by adding flavoring materials (seeds, nuts, herbs, fruits, flowers or spices) to distilled spirits such as rum, brandy, gin, vodka or whiskey.
Cordials must contain at least 2.5 percent sugar syrup; often, they contain far more sugar than this. Most cordials are 17 to 30 percent alcohol by volume.
Cordials are usually drunk after dinner, sometimes as a digestive. Many cordials are key ingredients in cocktails; they are also sometimes incorporated into desserts.
Popular cordials include amaretto, anisette, cherry liqueur, coffee liqueur, crème de cacao, crème de cassis, crème de framboises, crème de menthe, curacao, Irish cream, kirschwasser, limoncello, ouzo, sloe gin and triple sec.
Cordials were first invented by the Dutch in the 16th century as a use for rotten fruit and low-quality alcohol. They found that these poor-tasting ingredients tasted delicious if redistilled together with sugar.
Read more: Definition of Cordial | eHow.com
To try your hand...
Wash well and sterilize, by filling with boiling water, or allowing to dry in a hot dishwasher, a quart-sized jar, or larger. Clean approximately 2 cups of strawberries by rinsing well, de-stemming, and trimming any soft spots. Pat gently to dry.
Macerate berries in 1/2 to 1 cup sugar (depending upon your penchant for sweets) for at least one hour, and not more than overnight, refrigerated, stirring and crushing a few berries slightly, occasionally.
Remove from refrigerator. Add 3-4 well-washed sprigs of basil. (We used basil perpetua. Substitute any variety.)
Top jar off with 100 proof vodka, and lid. Shake well, and then remember to shake 2-3 times a day during steeping.
Allow to rest on a sunny windowsill for a day, then stash in a cool, dark cupboard for 4-6 week. (It will actually lose a little of its sweetness, and gain a little potency, over time. Taste-test four weeks in, and if you'd like it a little less cloyingly sweet, or a little more powerful, add the additional time.
When steeped to your taste, strain well, once through a fine-mesh sieve, and a final strain through butter muslin, or an unbleached coffee filter. Store in a cool, dark place. I keep it refrigerated because I enjoy it cold, and it takes me ages to finish a batch, although, with all that alcohol, refrigeration is unnecessary. Drink straight, with a mixer, as you choose. I love it in lemonade, but it can sneak up on you, so drink responsibly...and keep out of reach of the kiddos.