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Cordials-the good old-fashioned thirst quencher

Ah summertime!

Keeping yourself busy. Working or playing.

Or just lying around in the sun.

Or out of the sun, but somewhere warm.

Katie Swift Cordials This Magnificent LifeWhatever you do on summer days, a thirst is always circling you.

That’s an easy fix these days. Not many of us are far from a tap for a swirling mouthful of Nature’s timeless and simple remedy.


If that’s not posh enough for you there are fridges bursting with bottles of mineral, spring, sparkling and still, captured from mountains, glaciers, springs and caves all over the world. Each vying for your attention with messages of purity, elegance, healthiness and trendiness.

Katie Swift Cordials This Magnificent Life
Yummy raspberry delight!

Paying heaps just for ‘water’ is a very modern thing.

Fortunately we have among us some clever people who glanced quickly back into their past to check on some thirst quenchers that have stood the test of time.

Let us introduce Katie Swift of Katie Swift Cordials.

We’ve been using Katie Swift’s delicious cordials at Cornersmith for the last 5 years. ‘ We love that they're handmade, seasonal and have no additives. We admire how Katie sources locally grown fruits to make delicious and creative flavour combinations.
What a lovely boxful

We paused to ask her a few questions, as we tasted some of the finest fruit refreshers we’ve ever had.

Thanks so much Aunt Pattie!

 Where did first get the taste?

My childhood memories of cordial stem from the summer holidays  I used to spend in country New Zealand with my Aunt Pattie. Every year she would make cordial from her abundant crop of Meyer lemons. The Meyer has a softer flavour than the more common Lisbon or Eureka lemon, and a very aromatic zest. Whenever I can source them, I make a batch with Meyer lemons. All the flavours I make today are based on the original lemon recipe given to me by my aunt.

Katie Swift Cordials This Magnificent LifeHow did you start commercially?

In 2012 two of my friends opened their first cafe Cornersmith in Marrickville. I gave Alex and James a bottle of the lemon, which I have always made for family and friends, as a ‘cafe warming’ present. They loved it, and asked if I could make more for them. Now I make 12 flavours and have quite a number of outlets around town.

What makes your flavours stand out from the big name brands?

Katie Swift Cordials This Magnificent Life
Katie with Len in the lemon orchard

The cordials are special because they are handmade in small batches, I only use natural ingredients. As far as possible, I source the fruit from small growers close to Sydney. Lemons from Len and Dawn in Middle Dural, limes and tangelos from Mr Lee in Sommersby and Seville Oranges from Ross in Lake Munmora.

Do you have favourites?

I love all my children but based on sales, all the flavours have strong followers, but perhaps Lemon, Ginger, Passionfruit and Seville Orange and Saffron are a little ahead this summer.

Katie Swift Cordials This Magnificent Life
Katie admiring Charlie’s mixologist skills at the Newport as she creates the ‘Saffron Sour’ with Aperol & Seville Orange & Saffron cordial (Image: @katieswiftcordials Instagram)

Can you make cordials from any fruit or vegetable?

Almost any fruit can be made into cordial. As long as it can be juiced, it can be turned into cordial. You ask about vegetables, I suppose you could make, say a beetroot cordial, it would be a sensational colour, but I have no plans for it at present!

Will you take on the world?

Expansion, yes! I’m always stalking new outlets.

Do others relish them as much as we do?

TML enjoyed our tasting day in the sun and put away quite a few more in the following days of summer. Many just with chilled water and some blended into exotic cocktails.

Katie Swift Cordials This Magnificent Life
Go on. Have one of each!

What do others think?

First we hear from the lads at the Cornersmith cafes:

“We’ve been using Katie Swift’s delicious cordials at Cornersmith for the last 5 years. ‘

We love that they’re handmade, seasonal and have no additives. We admire how Katie sources locally grown fruits to make delicious and creative flavour combinations.

All her cordials are popular on our menus, in our stores and in our gift hampers.  We couldn’t recommend them more!”

Katie Swift Cordials This Magnificent Life
Off home to make the cordial

And then much awarded chef Greg Doyle:

”Katie Swift cordials are like her good self, all natural and full of integrity. We had them on the beverage list at the Sailors Club cafe and they were a great success. Perfect in a cocktail when entertaining on a lazy summers day. My favourite is the Ginger, just add a good sparkling mineral or soda water and you have the best Ginger Beer in town.”

And then Kate Walsh from Real Food:

“We think she’s the best cordial maker in Sydney not only because she makes delicious, old school cordial but is one of the few that is committed to using seasonal, local produce and no preservatives.”

Over to you

Katie Swift Cordials This Magnificent Life
Look for the real fruit in the bottles

You can see the range of Katie Swift Cordials and places where you can buy them at

Simply tickle up your tap water or swirl into some super fruit cocktails with recipes you’ll find on Katie’s site. Either way, keep that summer rolling.


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Ian MacTavish

Mr MacTavish is a celebrated writer and one of Australia's more respected Wine reviewers, appearing regularly in national magazines, in print and on line. So far, he has never been heard to say 'no' to a wee dram.

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