Elderflower liqueur is a delicious and versatile liquor. However, not everyone has access to it, or it may be too expensive.
So, what are the best substitutes for elderflower liqueur? You can use elderflower syrup, St. Elder, rose water, lychee liqueur, elderflower lemonade, or any other berry-based liqueur, or even make your own elderflower liqueur to use.
In this article, we will explore all of these options and how well they will work as substitutes for elderflower liqueur.
What Is Elderflower Liqueur?
The elderflower plant is native to Asia and Europe and has been used for centuries by herbalists as a medicine and tonic. The flowers are also edible, but they must be picked at the right time of day (early morning), or they will taste bitter.
The flowers are handpicked and then steeped in alcohol (usually vodka or brandy) for several weeks until they have absorbed enough flavor to make a delicious drink.
The resulting liquor is clear or light yellow in color and has an intense floral aroma that can range from sweet orange to spicy cloves, depending on how it’s made.
Elderflower liqueur can vary widely in strength depending on the recipe used by its producer—some are as strong as 40% ABV (80 proof), while others are only 15% ABV (30 proof).
Elderflower liqueur are great in many cocktails because of its floral, sweet flavor with a slight hint of citrus and pears.
In addition, elderflower is also great in non-alcoholic drinks like lemonade or sparkling water.
The flowers are key to making elderflower cordial and elderflower juice. They are also used as flavorings for cakes and desserts such as custards and puddings.
Elderflowers have been useful for thousands of years in herbal medicine to treat illnesses such as colds, flu, asthma, bronchitis, sore throats, inflammation of joints or muscles (rheumatism), gout, and arthritis.
Best Elderflower Liqueur Substitutes
If you cannot find elderflower liqueur, here are some great alcoholic and non-alcoholic substitutes.
Here is a helpful table ranking the best elderflower liqueur substitutes and why they work well:
|1.||Elderflower syrup||This is the most similar in flavor to elderflower liqueur and is almost a direct substitute.|
|2.||Berry-Based Liqueurs||Berry-based liqueurs like blackberry or raspberry can be used to add a similarly sweet, floral taste to cocktails.|
|3.||Fruit & Elderberry Juice||Mixing fruit juices and elderberry juice can create a similar flavor profile to elderflower liqueur.|
|4.||Rosewater||Rosewater has a similar floral taste and can be used as a substitute. It will however likely change the flavor profile a bit more than the previous options in this list.|
|5.||Lychee liqueur||Lychee liqueur also has a sweet flowery taste, but it is not as close in flavor as some of the options.|
|6.||Elderflower Lemonade||Elderflower lemonade has a similar flavor to elderflower liqueur and can be used as a substitute in cocktails and works especially well with mocktails.|
|7.||Homemade Elderflower Liqueur||Homemade elderflower liqueur can be made using fresh or dried elderflowers, sugar, and alcohol. It will have a more authentic elderflower taste than other substitutes.|
Elderflower syrup is a sweetener made from the blossoms and berries of the elder tree. Elder flowers have been used for centuries in Europe to make wine, cordials, and syrups.
It can be made using fresh or dried elderflowers. The latter is more convenient to use because it requires no straining or filtering of the syrup after it has been made.
Elderflower syrup has a unique aroma and flavor that can work as a great substitute for elderflower liqueur. Elderflower syrup is great in cocktails, teas, and lemonades, as well as with desserts, baked goods, and yogurt.
Since this is a non-alcoholic substitute, you can also use it in non-alcoholic drinks like mocktails and teas to enjoy the flavors of elderflower without the alcohol.
Berry-based liqueurs are a versatile substitution for elderflower liqueur in many cocktails and culinary dishes. They are made from different berries, such as blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, or mulberries.
Liqueurs made from berries have a delicate flavor that is not overpowering like some fruit-flavored liqueurs. They are often used to add sweetness to cocktails, as well as to flavor desserts and baked goods.
Strawberry liqueur has a bright red color with a sweet aroma reminiscent of fresh strawberries. It is popularly used in cocktails such as the Boulevardier and White Lady, although it can also be used to flavor desserts such as cheesecake or ice cream.
It can also be used in savory dishes such as vinaigrettes and salad dressings.
Raspberry liqueur adds an intense raspberry flavor to any drink without adding too much sweetness or color to your cocktail. Try using it instead of grenadine syrup in your favorite gin or vodka cocktail.
You can also use it as an infusion base for your homemade sodas or add it to sparkling water for a refreshing summer treat!
Blackberry liqueur is similar to elderflower in its sweetness but has a more complex flavor. It can be used as a substitute for elderflower in most recipes that call for the latter.
Blueberry liqueur has a subtle blueberry flavor that can be added to cocktails and dishes without overpowering them. The sweetness of this liqueur makes it especially suitable for desserts such as ice cream or cake batter.
Since there are many options for a berry-based liqueur, you’ll have a better chance of finding these substitute options to use in baking. Although the flavors are not exactly the same, you’ll still get the same kick to the flavors!
Fruit & Elderberry Juice
Fruit and elderberry juice is a great substitute for elderflower liqueur because of the same flavor profile.
The elderberry flavor is more subtle, but it still adds a nice tartness to your cocktail. Elderberries are also less expensive than elderflower liqueur, so you can save money by making your own homemade fruit and elderberry juice.
The process is very similar to making homemade lemonade. You simply add equal parts fruit and sugar to water and then cook it over medium heat until it’s reduced to a syrup consistency.
Then you strain out the solids with cheesecloth or muslin cloth and store the syrup in an airtight container in your refrigerator until you’re ready to use it.
Note that this recipe calls for an equal amount of fruit and sugar, but if you want a stronger flavor, use two parts fruit and one part sugar or even one part fruit to one part sugar if that’s what you have on hand.
You can use any kind of berry — blueberries, raspberries, strawberries — whatever you fancy.
If you don’t want to make your own, you can also use fruit juice in the grocery store as a non-alcoholic substitute for elderflower liqueur.
Rosewater is a great non-alcoholic option. It can be used in the same way: to add a floral note to cocktails, as an ingredient in desserts or ices, and as a flavoring in baking.
Rosewater can be made by steeping fresh rose petals in water, then straining out the petals.
This method is time-consuming and requires some patience, so most people use a shortcut method instead: They buy ready-made rosewater or buy dried rose petals (which are then reconstituted) and steep those in hot water.
Rose water has a very delicate flavor — too much will overpower many dishes, but just a drop will add an elegant touch to sweets such as baklava or puddings like rice pudding.
Lychee liqueur is an amazing fruit liqueurs. It has an exotic fruity flavor and is used in cocktails, mocktails, and punches.
This aromatic liqueur is made from lychee fruits, which are known for their sweet and juicy flesh. Lychee fruit is also called litchi or lichee in different parts of the world.
Because of its sweet taste and unique flavor, lychee liqueur is a great substitute for elderflower liqueur.
Elderflower lemonade is a non-alcoholic substitute for elderflower liqueur. It is made from elderflowers, lemons, and sugar.
This drink can be prepared as a hot or cold beverage, as well as used in cocktails and desserts.
Elderflower lemonade has a sweet flavor that’s similar to that of honey. It’s often used in desserts such as cakes and trifles, but it can also be mixed with vodka or rum to create an interesting drink.
Homemade Elderflower Liqueur
If you can’t find elderflower liqueur in the store, you can also make it at home by using just a few simple ingredients.
You will need the following:
- Thirty elderflowers, with leaves and stems removed. You can use fresh or dry flowers.
- A bottle of vodka (750ml).
- ½ cup sugar
- A lemon, sliced.
First, fill a jar with the elderflowers and the vodka, then seal the jar tightly. Store it in a dry and cool area in your home, and shake the jar every day to make sure the elderflowers flavors can steep into the liqueur.
After two weeks, strain all of the flowers and save the vodka.
Make a sugar syrup by heating the sugar in a saucepan with water, stirring until all the sugar is dissolved and the syrup thickens. Let it cool, and mix it with the vodka until the desired sweetness is achieved.
You can seal the jar and store the homemade elderflower liqueur in the fridge for a few weeks and use it in all of your recipes!
What does elderflower liqueur taste like?
The elderflower liqueur’s flavor can be described as floral and sweet with hints of pear and grapefruit. The taste is light and not overpowering, which makes it a great addition to mixed drinks or on its own over ice.
Elderflower liqueurs are usually made with European elderflowers (Sambucus nigra). This flower is found in Europe, North America, and Asia, where it blooms between May and September.
The flowers are picked before they open fully, so they retain their color when distilled.
Do elderberry and elderflower taste the same?
Elderberries and elderflowers are two different plants with similar names. Elderberries grow in the form of a bush with small, edible black berries. The berries are used to make jams, juices, and syrups.
Elderflowers bloom at the end of spring and have a sweet flavor with hints of citrus, lychee, and pear.
Elderberries have a slightly sweet, earthy, and tart flavor, whereas elderflowers have a floral flavor with hints of citrus, lychee, and pear.