behind the bardrinksentertainingFood & Drinkrecipes

behind the bar: chelsea fuss’ summer elderflower

by Ryan and Alissa Walker

I am currently having a love affair with the Pacific Northwest (shh, don’t tell Ryan). And yet, I have never visited it. Living vicariously through blogs and books, I have eaten at Delancy, worked from The Brain, had coffee at Cafe Lago and arranged flowers with Chelsea Fuss.

However, I can never decide which town I would call home were I fortunate enough to move to this beautiful part of the world: Seattle, Vancouver, Forks? But today’s Behind the Bar has settled it for me. Home would be Portland, Oregon! I mean come on – how beautiful are these images?!? I wish I was there now sipping a Summer Elderflower at the bucolic Luscher Farm. Chelsea has raised the bar for our Behind the Bar and rocked it with this amazing libation. I love that I can sip it at lunch and then kick it up a notch at dinner (with a little gin). Thanks, Chelsea! Happy weekend & Cin Cin. – Alissa + Ryan

The full recipe is after the jump…

Summer Elderflower Drink


  • 2 parts elderflower syrup (available at all IKEA stores and online at L’Epicerie)
  • 2 parts club soda
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 bunch of mint
  • 1 to 2 parts gin to taste (for an alcoholic version of the drink)

Fill a rocks glass with ice. Add elderflower syrup and soda, and give a light stir. Garnish with a slice of lemon and a sprig of mint.  Adding a refreshing gin (such as Hendrick’s gin) is a wonderful choice for an alcoholic version of the drink.

Why the Summer Elderflower Drink?
This is my favorite drink to bring on summertime picnics. In Europe and Canada, it’s easy to find elderflower drinks, but that’s not so much the case in Oregon where I live. And I don’t have access to a field of elderflowers to harvest (I wish I did!), as I hear they do in England. So for now, I just drop by IKEA and pick up a bottle of elderflower syrup. The drink is sweet, a little floral and very refreshing. I think it’s a romantic thing to drink on a hot summer day! Enjoy!

My friend Lisa Warninger took all these photos at my favorite Portland spot, Luscher Farm, a community garden and preserved family farm. Anna Allen made the dress I am wearing. These girls are two of my very favorite talents, so it made sense to bring them with me!

About Chelsea: Chelsea Fuss authors the popular lifestyle blog, Frolic!, which was named one of the top design blogs in the world by the London Times and has received press from the Wall Street Journal, Lucky, Domino and more. As a prop stylist and floral designer, Chelsea styles sets for product photography, books and catalogs and writes, styles and photographs for a variety of sites like Babble.com, Project Wedding, and My Wedding.com.

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  • Awesome! I bought some of that concentrated elderflower juice from Ikea a few months ago, but I haven’t figured out what to do with it besides mix it with water. I’ll be drinking these all weekend!

  • Mmm! A restaurant in my neighborhood, La Laiterie, makes a similar wonderful cocktail with St Germaine Liqueur, prosecco, lemon, and mint. It’s wonderful!

  • oh, we’ll be trying this one with our homemade elderflower cordial, sure enough, made from flowers my little girls foraged for me in the english countryside. they’re partial to elderflower jelly, elderflower popsicles, and when they’re ill i give them a spoonful of elderflower honey. i’m quite fond of the cordial in a sparkling wine. there are elderflowers on the pacific coast, but they bloom much earlier than the english ones. and then there’s the elderberries! i have just begun experimenting with elderflower sherry, too. delicious flower. http://url.appleturnover.tv/sherry

  • Ah, Chelsea can do no wrong. And seeing as we will be having one of our first summer like weekends of the year here in Portland, I’ll def. be trying these!

  • These photos were BEAUTIFUL and I ADORE anything elderflower!! Thanks so much for this post! However, as someone living in the Pac West, I have to share that while it is indeed beautiful, that beauty is hard to appreciate when it is grey for 9 months of the year! Today is June 3? And we are just now starting to move into 60 degree temps! Gasp!

  • What a wonderful recipe. Next time I head to Ikea I’ll be sure to pick up some of that syrup. Chelsea, you look beautiful too!

  • Elisa that sounds amazing! Courtney, I’d love to learn how to make the cordial! Melissa- I agree! Haha! Thanks for the feature, Design Sponge!

  • Aw, I love this. Elderflower is such a delicate and matchless taste.

    The green in these photos is so vibrant, Portland is like Lisa and Chelsea’s “lovely assistant”. And, they makes us Oregon girls proud.

  • A favorite in our house is a splash of elderflower syrup in a glass of prosecco,
    so easy and delicious.

    The Slanted Door in San Francisco also makes a great cocktail with elderflower,
    gin, fresh grapefruit juice and soda that is pretty easy to replicate at home.

  • Yum yum yum! I love elderflower and I love gin, so this drink is a total win! I might just have to go to ikea today to procure some of that syrup! YUM!!!!

  • Portland IS beautiful. . . but I must say, today is the FIRST day of nice weather we’ve had. Finally nice and warm enough to enjoy such a refreshing drink : )

  • you can use the syrup and a little water in lieu of cranberry in a cosmo. nice variation.

  • the pacific northwest is great. it’s been the getaway for my family since I was young and I have been to vancouver, seattle and portland. and this is how I view it. in my 20’s and 30’s, I would love to live in portland, then my 40’s and 50’s in seattle, then my golden years in vancouver. all those three places are so lush and gorgeous. you must visit. heck, I am going up north again this summer.

  • Great photographs of a perfect summer day! I am so glad that I can get the syrup at Ikea, I had no idea where to find it other than online. I was lucky enough to try an elderflower cocktail this past March in downtown San Jose, Ca. at the Hotel D’Anza. It was refreshing with a hint of flowers, totally unique. I can’t wait to try this recipe. BTW the Hotel has a very cool bar to lounge and listen to jazz!

  • Yum! I have a jar of this too, sitting in the cupboard! I will have to try very soon! Last year, we were introduced to the elderflower liquor, St. Germain (http://www.stgermain.fr/) and smitten with it’s delicate flavor. Gorgeous pictures! Thanks!

  • I just checked out the website for St. Germain, what a fun website, read the perfect cocktail info! Thanks for the info. That was the liquor in the drink i mentioned. It had champagne in it too. I predict this will become the new Mojito, or in other words the next POPULAR drink of the moment!

  • i love elderflower! it’s such an interesting taste/drink. i’ve had it in England, but i think you can get elderflower cordial or some sort of fizzy elderflower drink from Wegmans.

  • I love the Pictures you always submit for our enjoyment! Having been to all the cities you mentioned with exception of Forks, you have your work cut out for you in choosing one.
    ALL are awesome!

  • I love Luchser Farm! My very first job when I was 12 years old was a summer camp counselor at this farm. I went to a school called the environmental middle school and we worked the mess out of this lovely place. I remember gathering lettuce with my classmates and taking it back to school all dirty and wet on public transportation. The first time I ever smelled hot steamy chicken manure and tasted raw beets was there as well.
    I love all of your photos! You would never have known that the farm sat next to one of the towns great drive in movies not too long ago:) I need to go back for a visit!

  • Thanks for this lovely recipe! I have the Ikea elderflower cordial but I much prefer Bottle Green cordial. I have found it online at thirstmonger.com. You can probably also find it at some British food stores. Elderflower cordial is also lovely splashed over some fruit with mint. Perfect for a hot summer day!

  • Thank you so much for this recipe! I am a huge fan of St.Germaine liquor, but have been looking for a non alcoholic elderflower substitute for a while. I had the IKEA elderflower juice boxes, but didn’t know they had the syrup!! Thank you Thank you!!

  • Hi! I just wanted to say I found the third picture on pinterest and used it for an art assignment. I’d like to post it on my blog with our permission :) It’ll be credited of course. I don’t plan on making any money from it; I’m not that skilled anyways!

  • Just made this for a friend and they pretty much freaked out with happiness, as did I. Thank you for the brilliant recipe!