Root cordials

Categories: Product of the week

The latest addition to specialist liquorice stall, Sweet Roots

“When I started Sweet Roots we only sold pure liquorice-based products, but I have started to explore other flavours that come from plants—specifically, of course, their roots,” explains owner Lucas Giuliani, showing off the latest arrivals on his stall: a range of traditional, all-natural root-based cordials in dandelion and burdock, root beer, and liquorice and blackcurrant.

The cordials have been sourced from specialist supplier Mr Fitzpatrick’s, founded by a small family of Irish herbalists in the north of England in the late 19th century. “I was looking for good old fashioned products when I first came across the cordials up in Pontefract,” Lucas continues.

“I was very impressed by the quality. They’re very well made: not too sweet, not too strong and they do not use any extracts or refined sugar. You can taste that the flavours are absolutely natural because none of them are too predominant—they are so well balanced.”

Flowers and stems
The liquorice and blackberry is made with liquorice root rather than extract—“the flavour of liquorice extract is strong; this is very delicate, the way that liquorice should taste. It shouldn’t be aggressive”—and lots of blackberries. The dandelion and burdock is made using all parts of the dandelion, flowers and stems, and burdock root. “It’s delicious. Another great classic drink.”

“The one I find most interesting, however, is the root beer.” A combination of liquorice root, sarsaparilla root—a flavour common in many cola drinks—and roasted vanilla pods, while some root beers can be “way too vanilla-y”, this particular cordial is perfectly sweet and mild.

“I always try as many variations of a product as I can before I choose which to have on the stall, then choose one or two of the best and I am very happy with these cordials. All of them have great flavour.”

Refreshing summertime drink
An ever-inventive former chef, Lucas has myriad suggestions as to how to make the most of each cordial: try them on their own with sparkling water and plenty of ice, drizzle over ice creams, or add to sparkling wine—“though I probably wouldn’t recommend that with the root beer, it has a very distinct flavour!”—for a refreshing summertime drink.

Use the root beer cordial to make classic root beer floats using vanilla ice cream and fizzy water, or Mary Topp of New Forest Cider suggests adding the liquorice and blackcurrant variety to the stall’s cider, for a slightly different take on cider and black.

If you’re feeling more adventurous, Lucas suggests experimenting with savoury dishes. “You can use the dandelion and burdock cordial in a wine reduction. It tastes amazing with pork chops. The thing is to just give things a try—don’t be afraid to experiment.”