The Delicate and Fragrant Elderflower: A Guide to This Versatile Blossom

Elderflower is a delicate and fragrant blossom that grows on the elder tree, scientifically known as Sambucus nigra. This plant is commonly found in Europe and North America, it is commonly found throughout the country in both urban and rural areas. Elderflowers grow on the elderberry shrub, which can be found in various habitats such as forests, fields, and along roadsides.

The elderflower is small, white, and star-shaped, with a distinct floral aroma and a sweet, slightly musky flavor. The flowers bloom in late spring and early summer, and their fragrance fills the air with a pleasant, fruity scent.

Elderflowers typically bloom in late spring or early summer, typically between May and June in Canada. During this time, the flowers can be safely picked and used for various purposes, including culinary and medicinal uses.

When picking elderflowers, it is important to ensure that you are correctly identifying the plant. Elderberry shrubs can look similar to other shrubs, so it is important to be familiar with the plant's distinctive features, such as its compound leaves and clusters of small, white flowers.

It is also important to pick elderflowers from areas that are free from pollution, pesticides, and other contaminants. It is recommended to avoid picking elderflowers from roadsides or other areas that may be subject to contamination.

How elderflower was discovered for beverages

The first documented use of elderflower in drinks can be traced back to Roman times. In ancient Rome, Pliny the Elder (AD 23-79), a famous Roman author and naturalist, wrote about the use of elderflower in his encyclopedia "Naturalis Historia." He mentioned its use in various remedies and preparations, including as a diuretic and for treating respiratory ailments.

However, specific recipes for elderflower drinks only started to appear during the Renaissance. In England, a recipe for "Sambucus Water" can be found in "The Closet of the Eminently Learned Sir Kenelme Digby Kt. Opened," a collection of recipes published in 1669. The recipe called for the distillation of elderflowers with water to create a fragrant, flavored water.

It was not until the 18th and 19th centuries that elderflower began to be used more widely in alcoholic beverages, such as cordials and liqueurs. In Scandinavia, elderflower has been used in traditional recipes for making homemade elderflower cordial and syrup for centuries, which are then used to flavor drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic.

In the 20th century, elderflower continued to be a popular ingredient in cocktails, particularly as mixologists rediscovered classic ingredients and sought new flavors. The introduction of commercial elderflower liqueurs, such as St. Germain, in the early 21st century further popularized the use of elderflower in cocktails.

elderflower in the garden with tea

Most famous cocktails with elderflower

Elderflower has become a popular ingredient in a wide variety of cocktails, both classic and modern. One of the most well-known cocktails that incorporates elderflower is the Elderflower Collins, a twist on the traditional Tom Collins. This cocktail combines gin, lemon juice, sugar, and elderflower syrup, creating a refreshing and slightly sweet cocktail that is perfect for warm weather or anytime you want a delicious and easy-to-make drink.

For those who prefer a more modern twist on their cocktails, the Elderflower Margarita is a delicious option that combines the classic flavors of a margarita with the subtle sweetness of elderflower. This cocktail combines tequila, lime juice, triple sec, and elderflower liqueur, creating a refreshing and unique cocktail that is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.

Another popular cocktail that incorporates elderflower is the St. Germain Spritz, which combines St. Germain elderflower liqueur with sparkling wine, soda water, and a slice of lemon or lime. This cocktail is perfect for warm summer days or as a light and refreshing aperitif before a meal.

How about mocktails?

Elderflower is not only a popular ingredient in alcoholic beverages but also in non-alcoholic drinks. The floral and slightly sweet flavor of elderflower makes it an excellent addition to a wide variety of mocktails and other non-alcoholic beverages.

One of the most popular elderflower-based mocktails is the Elderflower Spritz, which combines elderflower syrup with sparkling water, a splash of lemon juice, and a few slices of cucumber. This refreshing and flavorful mocktail is perfect for those who want a light and refreshing drink without the alcohol.

Another popular non-alcoholic beverage that incorporates elderflower is the Elderflower Lemonade. This drink combines elderflower syrup with freshly squeezed lemon juice and sparkling water, creating a sweet and tangy beverage that is perfect for hot summer days.

Elderflower is also a popular ingredient in tea and other hot beverages. Elderflower tea is a natural remedy that has been used for centuries to relieve symptoms of the common cold and flu. The delicate floral aroma and sweet flavor of elderflower make it an excellent addition to black or green tea, creating a unique and delicious blend that is perfect for any time of day.

In addition to hot beverages, elderflower can also be used in smoothies and other blended drinks. The subtle sweetness and floral notes of elderflower pair well with a wide variety of fruits, making it a versatile ingredient in smoothie bowls, fruit smoothies, and other blended drinks.

Elderflower Margarita recipe from Alambika


2 oz. tequila

1 oz. Zap Prosyro

1 oz. triple sec/ non alcoholic triple sec syrup

1 oz. elderflower syrup


Lime wedges for garnish

Salt for rimming the glass (optional)


Begin by rimming a chilled margarita glass with salt, if desired. To do this, rub a lime wedge around the rim of the glass, then dip the rim into a small dish of salt.

In a cocktail shaker, combine the tequila, zap, triple sec, and elderflower syrup.

Add ice to the cocktail shaker and shake vigorously for about 15 seconds.

elderflower Margarita cocktail

Strain the mixture into the rimmed margarita glass and arnish with a lime wedge and serve immediately.

Pro tips:

Use high-quality tequila for the best results. A blanco or silver tequila is recommended for this recipe.

You can use special lime salt for the rim that adds a nice colour to it

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