Randi Baird

This recipe is loosely based on an elderberry liqueur in The Essential Herbal for Natural Health (Roost Books, 2012) by Islander Holly Bellebuono. She adds 1 cup of brandy to the mix as well. As written, this recipe produces a slightly sweet, lightly tart, fruity liqueur with a divine taste and gorgeous deep-purple color. Feel free to replace the beach plums with autumn olives, elderberries, or other fruit, though you may need to experiment with the sugar ratio.

  • 2 quarts beach plums, stems removed, rinsed
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 bottle your favorite vodka (3 1/2 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice


1. Examine beach plums and toss out any damaged ones. Place plums in a pot or large bowl, toss with the sugar, and gently crush the beach plums with a potato masher. Let sit for up to an hour to allow the sugar to draw out additional juices.

2. Add the beach plum–sugar mixture to a half-gallon mason jar (or two or three quart-sized mason jars, if you prefer), preferably with a wide opening. Pour in a bottle of vodka and add the lemon juice. It should fill the container up to a ¼-inch from the top. Screw the top onto the container, shake upside down once or twice, label the jar with the type of cordial and the date, and store it in a cool, dark place for one to two months. Every week or so, give the jar a shake to redistribute the contents more evenly.

3. Strain the mixture into a clean jar and discard the fruit and pits. (Jars don’t need to be sterilized as with canning, due to the alcohol content.) The choice of straining method is up to you and your desired consistency; anything from a coffee filter to a mesh strainer will get the job done.