Homemade Cordials are the Best: With Recipe for ‘Quarante-Quatre’

Reader Contribution by Wendy Akin
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While citrus season is in full swing, make this delicious orange flavored cordial.

If you’ve followed my posts for the past couple years, you know that I like to make fruit cordials — catch up here for previous recipes for limoncello, cherry pit cordial, spiced apple cordial and a Kahlua type cordial. All of these cordials make nice little gifts.

In the liquor store there now seems to be about any flavor vodka, flavored whiskeys and brandies and even an adulterated Irish Cream. I like to make my own so I know that the flavor comes from good fruit rather than some chemical compound and I probably save money, too.

Quarante-Quatre (translates to forty-four) is a very traditional French cordial. You’ll also find it, or variations of it, where French people have settled. It combines fresh orange and coffee, a classic marriage. I choose French Roast beans, of course.

I’ve no doubt that some French use their powerful marc to make this, but I like the warmth of gold rum and buy an inexpensive brand. The orange must be small enough to put into the jar you’re using. Try to find a thin-skinned orange, preferably organic, rather than a thick skinned Navel orange. The orange pictured is a beautiful Blood Orange.


• 44 whole coffee beans, about 2 tablespoons
• 1 small orange
• about 25 ounces white or gold rum
• optional: simple syrup


Working over a shallow bowl or small tray, use a sharp little knife to poke holes in the orange. Stick the point in about ¼ inch and give it a twist. Insert a coffee bean and move onto the next, inserting 44 beans into the orange. Now drop the orange into a quart canning jar (or larger if you multiply the recipe). Fill the jar with the rum and put the lid on.  Stash the jar away in a dark cupboard for at least 3 months. The cordial will become much darker as the orange and coffee infuse the rum.

If when you taste, you want a sweeter cordial, add a judicious amount of simple syrup. Add it bit by bit taking tiny sips until it’s to your taste. Make simple syrup with a cup of sugar and a cup of water. Bring slowly to a simmer, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved.

Imbibe responsibly.

Wendy Akin is happy to share her years of traditional skills knowledge. Over the years, she’s earned many state fair ribbons for pickles, relishes, preserves and special condiments, and even a few for breads. Read all of Wendy’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

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