A cordial was once rather different to how we know it today. It was a medicine with an alcoholic base, made in Italian apothecaries in the 15th and 16th centuries, containing herbs and spices and other beneficial ingredients.
These cordials arrived in Britain in the 15th century and were taken to invigorate and revitalise the body, particularly the heart ('cor' being the latin word for heart)
By the 18th century, they were drunk rather more recreationally and over time became known as liqueurs.
The officers of the East India Company themselves brought home stories of exotic drinks. One such recipe was Paanch, meaning ‘five’ in Hindi, comprising five simple ingredients: water, sugar, fruit, tea and alcohol. It became what we now know as punch.