The holiday season is not far away, and with it comes the delightful task of stocking the cupboard with treats. Items you may not have on hand for everyday use, but maybe for when your Great Aunt Helen shows up, something a little special to show your guests that you think they are something special too.
Often we find ourselves having to provide our company with a refreshing non-alcoholic beverage other than run of the mill pop or juice. When those situations arrive, it’s nice to have something on hand like Belvoir cordials, presses or fruit crushes.
Cordials are concentrated elixirs or essences of fruit that are typically added to sparkling water, or a splashed into a gin and tonic, vodka soda or glass of champagne. The first Belvoir cordials were made in the nineteen seventies by Mary Manners the wife of founder Lord John Manners, who made elderflower cordials on the estate. Who wouldn’t trust a product developed by someone with the name “Mary Manners”? Now Belvoir produces sixteen flavours,unique blends like organic ginger and lemon, perfect for making your own ginger ale, or rye and ginger.
For drinking straight out of the bottle, or rather, poured over ice in your prettiest glass, pressés are fruit presses mixed with sparkling water from the spring on the estate, and stills are non-sparkling.
These beverages are beautiful in the bottle and free of artificial ingredients, preservatives and colourings. Much of the fruit is grown on the Belvoir Fruit Farms in the Vale of Belvoir in Lincolnshire, England, the same area that produces Stilton cheese. They make a lovely presentation as well; bright, colourful and pretty in an old fashioned way. Furthermore, the small company is charmingly eccentric, just check out their “about us” page!
Even the name “Belvoir” has its own, unique idiosyncratic sound, pronounced “Beaver.” It’s always great to know how and why the locals pronounce things a certain way, like Strachan Ave in Toronto; it provides a little conversation fodder that you can regale your guests with while you refill their glasses:
“Home to the Duke and Duchess of Rutland, Belvoir Castle commands a magnificent view over the Vale of Belvoir. Robert de Todeni, Standard Bearer to William the Conqueror, clearly thought the same because when he built the first fortress here he named it “Bel voir”, French for “beautiful view”. Following the Norman Conquest in 1066, the ruling classes changed and Norman French was introduced. New settlements such as Belvoir, Beaulieu (“bewley”) and Alnwich (“anick”) were established, but their names became anglicised as only the nobility spoke and understood medieval French. It is unclear whether the decision to pronounce Belvoir as “beaver” was a direct snub by English traditionalists to the French invasion or whether it was simply because the Anglo-Saxons were unable to master the French tongue.”
The Belvoir Castle, built in the eleventh century, is the same one that was used in the movie The Da Vinci Code, and somewhat more appropriately, the Ricky Schroeder version of Little Lord Fauntleroy. In fact, pouring yourself a glass of these lovely beverages may have you feeling la little like a little Lord.
And when Great Aunt Helen pops in and wants a little nip to go with that gingerbread how about mixing her up one of these?
Ginger Toffee Apple
15ml apple schnapps
30ml vanilla vodka
125ml Ginger Pressé
1 lemon wedge (squeezed)
Build all ingredients into sling glass with cubed ice and garnish with apple fan.