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Perfumed Drinks: Victorian Refreshments

I’ve always thought that the industrious Victorian and Edwardian entrepreneurs were both earnest and slightly naive in the best sense.

Botanical drinks are a good example of this kind of ventures, where at some point someone got the idea mass produce the drinks of their childhood and turn them in to a highly profitable business.

Some of these all time favourite British refreshments are carbonated whilst others are highly concentrated juices and flower based cordials and presses.

Carbonated and or brewed:

  • Cream Soda
  • Cloudy Victorian Lemonade
  • Ginger Beer
  • Rose Lemonade
  • Pressés. Fruit and herbal drinks lightly carbonated

Fruit based:

  • High Juice
  • Squash. Fruit concentrates, usually from apples, oranges, strawberries, black currants and raspberries
  • Barley and fruit concentrates
  • Cordials. Typically made with elderflower, pomegranate, lime, ginger and berries

This is one of the Victorian “Clever Cards” that Fentimans has recently launched to promote its drinks.


The inflorescence of the Sambucus, also called elder belongs to the honeysuckle family , it’s a perennial plant and grows into small trees and shrubs.

The fragrant white little flowers of the Sambucus, popularly known as elderflower  The word ‘Elder’ comes from the Anglo-Saxon word aeld.

It is used to flavour sweets, marshmallows, cakes. Syrups are also used to elaborate liqueurs, wine and champagne.

Here’s a recipe for a great Victorian cocktail. For each glass you will need:  

  • 2 ice cubes
  • 3 tbsp elderflower cordial
  • juice of ½ lime
  • top with ginger beer
  • garnish with peppermint leaves
  • add a shot of gin or vodka

Shake and serve.


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