Orange Cordial

I hoped this  drink from Kitchen Essays (Agnes Jekyll, originally published in The Times in 1921 – 22, reprinted by Persephone Books in 2001) would be a quick route to a drink almost as good as sloe gin… ah, folly. This recipe is from the ‘Hints for holiday housekeeping’, a short chapter which also  suggests game pie, lemon marmalade, Dundee cake and potted salmon as being suitable for the Easter Holidays.

Orange Cordial

When the young people have gone to bed, a tiny glass of this Orange Cordial, from the storeroom would not come amiss. Take 4 selected lemons and 4 Seville oranges; peel very thin and slice finely into a large crock (with cover) with 1 1/2lb loaf sugar broken small. To this add ½ gallon unsweetened gin and a halfpennyworth of hay saffron. Let this stand 8 days in a warm place, stirring it once a day. Strain and bottle. This should make 3 bottles.


  • ½ gallon gin? Gosh, people knew how to have fun in the past (this is 2.3litres). I used a 375ml bottle and adjusted all other amounts accordingly.
  • Pretty straightforward to assemble – potato peeler for the fruit then cut the fruit flesh out in segments, removing the pith.
  • I decided 4 small strands of saffron was the right amount, basically arbitrarily as I didn’t bother to research how much saffron could be bought for a ha’penny in 1922.
  • I actually left it for 10 days. I’m just not always in the mood for gin.

Here is is when all of the ingredients have just been added to the jar – the red bits are the saffron!

orange cordial


This was a disappointment. Drunk neat over ice, it was reminiscent of orange jelly.  Drunk long with fizzy water and some slices of lemon and orange, it was… nice but not the equal of the gin/vodka + berry drinks which I biennially get my act together to make.

Ginned by Elly


2 responses to “Orange Cordial

  1. This reminds me, I have a jar in the cupboard with vodka and comfrey leaves in. I’m not actually sure it’s suitable for human consumption (it certainly doesn’t look it).

  2. You are a filth-wizard etc.