Creating cordials – preserving memories as well as the harvest

Creating cordials - preserving memories as well as the harvest - image from a drum altar on pixiespocket.com

A few times every year, on the equinox and solstice, at Beltane and at Samhain, I gather with my like-minded friends and family and raise a ruckus and a big bonfire. When we gather around the fire to drum, to dance, and to celebrate, we share our abundance at the drum altar. These altars take many forms, from hay bale structures to more permanent platforms, but the essence of their beauty is the decadence that we create for each other in the gifts we bring.

Usually a drum altar includes a few different levels. Space is set aside for people to set their sacred items for the duration of the event, and we make a spot to add pictures of our beloved ones who have shuffled off the mortal coil. Then there is the practical yet pretty placement of supplies we need – jugs of water to keep the drummers and dancers hydrated, chocolate and candies to slake a sweet tooth, wine. rum, salty snacks, baked goods, and a good deal of fresh fruit!  All of these goodies help everyone to stay up playing until the dawn comes sliding into the sky and the birds start their morning tune.

Creating cordials - preserving memories as well as the harvest - image from a drum altar on pixiespocket.com
image credit Andrew Deal

At the end of the night (beginning of the day) it is time to tidy the drum circle, throwing away bottles or cans left over by those whostumbled back to their camps the night before, picking up bells and jewelry that were danced off, and offering leftover edible goodies to the fire. Any chocolates that are melting or cut fruit that might draw ants are given to the hot bed of coals to consume.

There was a good deal of citrus fruit left over one year, and as an altar tender, I felt bad about wasting whole, lovely fruit. So into my basket it went and it came home with me to become a delicious cordial.

As I prepared the cordial, zesting and juicing the fruit, I let my mind wander back to the lovely dancers, the throbbing rhythm of the drums, the snippets of meaningful conversation with my friends and tribe. All of those memories went into the cordial, too.  Every giggle, every shared sip of rum, every drum beat, every song, every bad joke told by a little kid, every chant and prayer was infused into the cordial, just like the fruit.

citrus cordial recipe on pixiespocket.com

Citrus Rum Cordial

  • 1 grapefruit, juiced, small bit of zest.
  • 3 oranges, juiced, bit of zest, plus one quarter of an orange tossed in
  • 1 lime, juiced, bit of zest
  • sugar
  • Bacardi 151 (any rum or vodka would work here)

First, take a zester and shave a few inches off of each fruit. Too much adds a bitter flavor that I don’t always enjoy, but if you do, then add more!

Juice the rest of the fruit. I have an old-fashioned hand juicer that works like a charm. Add the zest and the juice to a jar – I used an 8oz jelly jar for this batch.

Fill the jar with your booze of choice. White rum or vodka are my favorites for cordials since they are so neutral in flavor, but you can use whatever you like!

Label your jar with the contents and date and stash it away in a dark cabinet for a month or so. Strain it into a bottle and taste it. Add sugar syrup until you like the flavor. Label it and enjoy!



The image of me lighting candles at the drum altar is from an article called “Dargonshine Pagan Commune: Fairy Tale or Road to Perdition?” – both misspelling the property name and casting a OOH SPOOOOOKY tone on a very non-religious drum and dance event. *eyeroll* All the same, photo and article attributed to Andrew Deal.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.