The word cordial is most commonly used to refer to a polite way a person acts towards another, followed closely in recognition as being the name used to describe a sweet, chocolate-covered, fruit-filled candy. However, when it comes to describing a beverage, the definition isnít quite as cut and dry. This is because it can actually be used to describe many different types of drinks.

Technically speaking, the word cordial is used to describe a tonic, syrup, or non-alcoholic drink that is often considered to be quite sweet. Although, many people consider the term to describe any type of liqueur that has a low alcohol content, or even a medicinal beverage.

Medicinal Purposes

For years, a cordial was used for medicinal purposes. In order to cure a personís ailment, and because it was thought to also be good for a personís overall health, various types of cordials were created. Starting during the Renaissance, and continuing on throughout the years, cordials were often alcohol-based. In these types of cordials, spices and herbs, as well as other types of ingredients, were steeped to create a cure-all drink.

Common drinks included Royal Usquebaugh, a spicy beverage containing gold leaf flecks, and Rosolio or Rosa Solis, a drink from the sundew plant that worked as an aphrodisiac and a heart stimulator.


In many areas throughout the world, the words liqueur and cordial are considered to be interchangeable. When used to describe liqueur, a cordial is often very flavorful, has a low alcohol content, and is consumed after a meal. The reason for drinking a cordial once a meal has been finished is because the drink is a little sweeter, can work well in place of a sweet dessert, and also ties together the flavors of the entire meal. The term also describes a spirit that is sweet and has been infused with flavor.

These types of liqueur are often categorized according to whatever agent was used to flavor the liquid, such as spices, herbs, creams, nuts, and fruits. While these ingredients are more common, cordials may also be created by using juices or fruit pulp as the main ingredient.

In addition, a cordial is also used to describe a liqueur that has been created by blending brandy with spices and herbs.

Sweet Treat

In Australia, New Zealand, and the UK, as well as many other countries, a cordial is also known as a squash. This is a non-alcoholic drink that is very sweet and flavored to taste like various fruits, such as lemon, strawberry, kiwi, and peach. The squash comes in concentrate form and water or seltzer is added to create the perfect cordial.

There is a similar type of drink that is popular in the United States, although instead of being known as a squash, it is more commonly referred to as a syrup.

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