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What Is a Cordial Drink? All You Need To Know (2024 Best Edition)

What Is a Cordial Drink

Last Updated on March 24, 2024 by Lydia Martin

If you’re a bartender wannabe or have been very interested in mixed drinks, you most probably have come across cordial drinks. 

But did you know that long before it’s been used as a cocktail mixer, cordials were used for medicinal purposes? 

So really, what is a cordial drink? If you want to find out, keep reading. 

Cordial Drink: What Is It?

Bottle of Homemade Lime Cordial and a Glass of Cocktail Drink

A cordial drink is one of the most diverse and extensive categories of spirits.

It is made by redistilling or mixing neutral spirits like brandy and rum with herbs, fruits, and cream. 

A cordial is also known as a liqueur, a flavored and sweetened liquor, except in the UK, where it is a sweet but non-alcoholic liquid.

It is a versatile drink that offers limitless possibilities.

Some of the oldest cordials are sweet medicinal used for ailments, and while it was a popular mixer for cocktails, they can be consumed neat. 

Read: Cordial vs Liqueur

Why Is A Drink Called A Cordial? 

The drink is called cordial because it was derived from the word “cordialis,” meaning “of or for the heart.”  

Cordials were initially made in Europe with distilled spirits and herbs, flowers, fruits, oils, nuts, and seeds to treat ailments. 

Today, cordials are casually consumed for enjoyment, leading to the use of the word “liqueur” instead of “cordial.” 

Does Cordial Contain Alcohol? 

Grapefruit Cordial on a Glass Jar

Yes, cordial contains alcohol, except in the UK. Cordials or liqueurs fall anywhere between 10 – 30% ABV. 

Cordial producers use neutral spirits which contain alcohol, but due to the flavoring agents and sugar, many cordials are low-proof spirits. 

“Our consumers value the natural credentials of our products and don’t want an artificially sweetened product,”

– Amanda Grabham, Marketing Director of a Cordial brand

For instance, Grand Marnier and Cointreau contain around 40% ABV, while Peppermint Schnapps is around 15% ABV. 

In the UK, a cordial drink is known as squash, a sweetened, non-alcoholic fruit syrup [1]. 

Is Cordial The Same As Liqueur? 

Yes, cordial is similar to liqueur. Cordials and liqueur can be interchanged (except for the UK). It is typically known as a sweetened or lower-proof distilled spirit. 

Liqueur and cordial’s ingredients are distilled spirits, flavorings, and sweeteners [2].

Both are sweet with a specific flavor and can be served in cocktails, straight up, in shots, and on the rocks. 

Compared To Other Drinks 

Ginger Lime Cordial and a Glass of Cocktail Drink


Tonic gives a bitter taste because it contains quinine and botanicals as the key ingredient, while cordial has a sweet and distinct flavoring. 

Tonic does not contain alcohol, unlike cordial. If you are familiar with tonic water, it is often used as a cocktail mixer (Gin and Tonic).


Juice is a mixed drink with a wide selection, but unlike cordial, it does not contain alcohol. Juice can be sweet or tasty, depending on its flavorings. 

Moreso, the juice is widely used in cocktail drinks as a non-alcoholic mixer, but you can enjoy it alone. 


Syrup is a thick sweet liquid made using boiling sugar in water and is often used for preserving fruit. 

Like cordial, the syrup is sweet but does not contain alcohol because it infuses flavors in boiling water and not distilled spirit. 

The syrup is often used as a mixer and not consumed on its own because of its very sweet taste. 

What Is It Used For? 

Bartender Making Lime Cordial

A cordial drink is frequently used as a drink mixer because it contains sweetness that can counteract bitterness and other ingredients. 

Depending on their flavors, cordials, and liqueurs seamlessly blend when mixed in cocktails.

Cosmopolitans, Margaritas, and Mai Tai are classic cocktail drinks that use cordials. 

But before it became a popular mixer, cordial was widely used as a medical tonic.

If prepared with medicinal herbs, cordials can be a tasty medicine that can cure different ailments. 

Also, it can be used as a digestif to aid digestion. 

How Do You Serve A Cordial Drink?

A cordial drink is widely served as a digestif and great to serve with dessert because of its sweet nature.

You can serve cordials in small cordial glasses and drink them straight, but you can add ice or chill the bottle to improve its taste.

For the most part, cordial drinks are used in cocktails because they add sweetness to the drink. There are countless recipes where you can use cordial. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

What kind of drink is a cordial?

A cordial is a type of sweetened, flavored alcoholic beverage that is often served as a liqueur or aperitif. Cordials typically have a syrupy consistency and are made by infusing fruits, herbs, spices, or botanicals in a base spirit, such as brandy or vodka, along with sugar or sweeteners.

The result is a flavorful and aromatic drink that can be enjoyed on its own or used as an ingredient in cocktails and mixed drinks.

Cordials come in a wide variety of flavors, ranging from fruit-based options like cherry or raspberry to herbal or floral varieties like elderflower or lavender.

Is cordial the same as juice?

No, cordial is not the same as juice. While both cordials and juice are beverages, they differ in several key aspects. Cordial is a sweetened, flavored alcoholic beverage made by infusing fruits, herbs, or botanicals in a base spirit, often with added sugar or sweeteners.

Cordials typically have a syrupy consistency and are used as liqueurs or flavoring agents in cocktails and mixed drinks.

On the other hand, juice refers to the liquid extracted from fruits or vegetables, often through pressing or squeezing. Juice can be consumed on its own as a non-alcoholic beverage or used as an ingredient in cooking, baking, or mixed drinks. Unlike cordials, juice does not contain alcohol and is typically characterized by its natural flavor and freshness.

What is the meaning of cordial drink?

The term “cordial drink” refers to a type of beverage that is sweet, flavored, and often served as a liqueur or aperitif. Cordial drinks are made by infusing fruits, herbs, spices, or botanicals in a base spirit, such as brandy or vodka, along with sugar or sweeteners. The resulting drink is flavorful, aromatic, and may have a syrupy consistency.

Cordial drinks can be enjoyed on their own, served over ice, or used as ingredients in cocktails and mixed drinks to add depth of flavor and complexity.

The term “cordial” can also be used to describe a friendly and hospitable demeanor or a sincere expression of goodwill, reflecting the convivial nature of enjoying such beverages in social settings.

What’s the difference between a cordial and a liqueur?

The main difference between a cordial and a liqueur lies in their alcohol content and flavor profile. Cordials, also known as fruit syrups or fruit-flavored beverages, are typically non-alcoholic or have a very low alcohol content.

They are made by infusing fruit flavors into a sugar syrup base, sometimes with the addition of alcohol, and are often diluted with water before consumption.

Liqueurs, on the other hand, are alcoholic beverages made by infusing or distilling flavorings such as fruits, herbs, spices, or nuts into a distilled spirit base.

Liqueurs have a higher alcohol content than cordials and are often enjoyed on their own as aperitifs or digestifs, or used as ingredients in cocktails and mixed drinks.

What are examples of cordials?

Examples of cordials include a wide range of sweetened, fruit-flavored syrups that can be used to make refreshing beverages. Some common flavors of cordials include cherry, raspberry, orange, lemon, elderflower, and ginger.

Cordials are often diluted with water or soda to create flavored drinks, or they can be used as flavoring agents in cocktails, mocktails, or desserts.

Additionally, some cordials may contain alcohol, in which case they are referred to as fruit liqueurs or flavored spirits.

What is the purpose of a cordial?

The purpose of a cordial is to provide a sweet and flavorful beverage that can be enjoyed on its own or used as a versatile ingredient in various culinary applications. Cordials are often used to add fruit flavors to drinks and cocktails, enhancing their taste and aroma.

They can be mixed with water or soda to create refreshing beverages, or they can be used as flavoring agents in desserts, sauces, or glazes.

Cordials are also popular for their ability to add depth and complexity to cocktails, providing a balanced sweetness and fruitiness to mixed drinks.

Additionally, cordials can be enjoyed as standalone drinks, served over ice or mixed with sparkling water for a simple yet flavorful refreshment.

What is the healthiest cordial drink?

The healthiest cordial drink would likely be one that is made with natural ingredients, contains minimal added sugars or artificial additives, and is consumed in moderation.

Opting for cordials made with real fruit juices or extracts, without added high-fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners, can provide some nutritional benefits, such as vitamins and antioxidants.

Additionally, choosing cordials that are diluted with water or sparkling water rather than sugary sodas can help reduce calorie and sugar intake.

However, it’s essential to remember that even the healthiest cordial drinks should be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet, and moderation is key to overall health and well-being.

Why is juice called cordial?

The term “cordial” originally referred to a medicinal or herbal preparation, often made by steeping herbs or botanicals in alcohol. Over time, the meaning of the word evolved to include sweetened, fruit-flavored syrups or beverages.

The term “cordial” is thought to have derived from the Latin word “cor,” meaning heart, as these beverages were believed to be invigorating and beneficial to one’s health.

In some regions, particularly in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth countries, fruit-flavored syrups or concentrates are commonly referred to as cordials.

The association with the term “cordial” suggests a sense of warmth, friendliness, or sincerity, reflecting the enjoyable and convivial nature of sharing a drink with others.

Is cordial healthier than Coke?

Whether cordial is healthier than Coke depends on various factors, including ingredients, nutritional content, and consumption patterns. Cordial drinks typically contain fruit flavors and sweeteners, while Coke is a carbonated soft drink made with high-fructose corn syrup or sugar and flavorings such as caffeine and phosphoric acid.

In terms of calorie and sugar content, cordial drinks can vary widely depending on the brand and formulation, but they generally contain less sugar and calories than regular Coke.

However, cordials may still contain added sugars or artificial sweeteners, which can contribute to excess calorie intake and may not provide significant nutritional benefits.

Ultimately, both cordial and Coke should be consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet, and opting for water or other low-calorie beverages is generally a healthier choice for hydration.

What is another name for a cordial drink?

A cordial drink is often referred to as a liqueur. Liqueurs are flavored spirits typically made with fruits, herbs, spices, flowers, or nuts.

They are sweetened and often have a lower alcohol content compared to other spirits like whiskey or vodka.

Cordials and liqueurs are terms that are used interchangeably in various regions.

How do you drink a cordial?

Cordials are versatile beverages enjoyed in various ways. They can be consumed neat, meaning straight and without any additional mixers or ice. This allows you to appreciate the full flavor profile of the cordial. Some people prefer to sip on cordials as a digestif after a meal.

They can also be used as a base for cocktails, adding depth and complexity to mixed drinks. Alternatively, cordials can be mixed with soda water or tonic to create refreshing long drinks.

The choice of how to drink a cordial ultimately depends on personal preference and the occasion.

Is cordial drink healthy?

The healthiness of a cordial drink depends on several factors, including its ingredients, alcohol content, and consumption moderation. Cordials are often high in sugar due to the sweetening agents added during the production process. Excessive consumption of sugary drinks can contribute to weight gain, dental issues, and other health problems.

Additionally, cordials contain alcohol, which can have both positive and negative health effects. Moderate alcohol consumption may have cardiovascular benefits, but excessive drinking can lead to liver damage, addiction, and other serious health issues. It’s essential to consume cordials and other alcoholic beverages in moderation and be mindful of overall sugar intake.

Choosing cordials made with natural ingredients and enjoying them in moderation as part of a balanced lifestyle can contribute to a healthier approach to drinking.

As with any dietary choice, individuals should consider their own health needs and consult with a healthcare professional if they have concerns about alcohol consumption or its impact on their health.

What are the characteristics of a cordial drink?

Cordial drinks typically exhibit several distinct characteristics. Firstly, they are flavored spirits, often infused with fruits, herbs, spices, or
botanicals. This infusion process gives cordials their unique taste profiles, which can range from fruity and sweet to herbal and spicy.

Secondly, cordials are sweetened, usually with sugar or syrup, to balance the flavors and create a smoother, more palatable drink. The sweetness level can vary depending on the specific cordial and its intended use.

Thirdly, cordials generally have a lower alcohol content compared to other spirits, such as whiskey or vodka, making them more approachable for a wide range of palates. Finally, cordials may possess a thick or syrupy consistency, enhancing their richness and mouthfeel.

These characteristics combine to create a beverage that is flavorful, sweet, and versatile, suitable for sipping neat, mixing in cocktails, or enjoying with mixers.

Is cordial better than soft drink?

The comparison between cordial and soft drinks depends on individual preferences and health considerations. Cordials, being flavored spirits, typically contain alcohol, which is absent in most soft drinks.

This key difference can influence the decision for consumption based on personal preferences and dietary restrictions. From a nutritional standpoint, cordials often contain sugar or syrup as sweetening agents, contributing to their calorie content.

Soft drinks also contain sugars or artificial sweeteners, which may impact health differently depending on factors such as overall diet, lifestyle, and individual health conditions. In terms of flavor and versatility, cordials offer a broader range of taste profiles and can be enjoyed in various ways, including neat, mixed in cocktails, or with mixers, providing a more diverse drinking experience compared to many soft drinks.

Ultimately, the choice between cordial and soft drink depends on factors such as taste preferences, dietary considerations, and personal wellness goals.

Is brandy a cordial?

Brandy is not typically classified as a cordial. Brandy is a spirit distilled from wine or fermented fruit juice, such as grapes, apples, or pears. It is aged in wooden barrels, which imparts additional flavors and aromas to the spirit. Brandy is known for its rich, complex flavor profile, which can include notes of fruit, oak, spice, and caramel.

Unlike cordials, brandy is not typically sweetened, although some varieties may contain added sugar or flavorings. While both brandy and cordials are flavored spirits, they are distinct categories within the world of alcoholic beverages.

Brandies are often enjoyed as a digestif or used in cocktails, while cordials are more commonly used as aperitifs, mixers, or enjoyed on their own.

So, What Is A Cordial Drink?

Cordial is a flavored, distilled spirit that is usually sweet and contains low alcohol.

It is made by mixing neutral spirits with herbs, fruits, and other flavorings. 

Cordials are synonymous with liqueur. You can consume them as digestives, enjoy them on their own, consume them on the rocks, or mixed in cocktails. 


  1. The Cordial Drink Market
  2. Liqueur Alcoholic Beverage
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