Spring is finally upon us. So lets kick it off with a bottle St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur. If you go to the St. Germain website they’ll tell you the lovely story behind their artfully complex liqueur. It all begins at the foothills of the Alps, during but a few fleeting days of spring. Locals will handpick wild elderflower blossoms and bike sacks of these blossoms down the hillside to market. These sacks will be the entirety of what will become St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur. Do I have your attention yet? Good, because aparently this stuff isn’t easy to make.
Distiller Robert Cooper takes on a complex process where speed is absolutely essential. These fragile blossoms quickly lose their flavor and fragrance once picked. Since a traditional maceration process yields little flavor and the customary option of pressing the flowers causes an unfortunate bitterness, an entirely new process was needed to properly extract the essence of these flowers while preserving their one of a kind flavor. Once this is complete the maceration is married with eau-de-vie or grape spirit. Finally, the spirit is blended with enough cane sugar to enhance the natural flavors of the blossoms. This is a process passed down through three generations of experience, dating back to 1884.
If your favorite liquor store carries it you’ve probably noticed this stunning, almost perfume-like bottle, on their shelves. Twist off that bottle’s cap and you’ll smell the wonderful aroma of lychee, peach, grapefruit zest; along with the floral notes from the elderflower. After you notice a strong presence of lychee, a sip test will reveal a balance of passionfriut, pear and the citrus of lemon and grapefruit… and of course elderflower. The palette entry is soft and the mouthfeel is full of honey. St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur is clean, sweet, and refreshing. Never cloying. It’s a well decorated liqueur, taking home double gold at the 2007 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
The most exciting part about this liqueur is its mixability. You can combine it with champagne, white wine (Gewürtztraminer, my favorite white wine) or use it for a base in multiple cocktail recipes featuring gin, vodka, piscos, or just about anything really. My Cucumberous cocktail recipe combines St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur with fresh cucumber and lime juice, gin, rosemary simple syrup and orange bitters. It’s one of my most sought after cocktails. Get this, you can even freeze it and use it to layer a shot. The newbies in the cocktail world 9–10 will start out mixing cocktails with St. Germain. Is it the catchy packaging and story, or just the sweet lovable liqueur? Either way, It’s a very popular liqueur and a great addition to your home bar. Your next purchase, I’m going to predict you go with Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur. No doubt the bottles of St Germain and Domaine de Canton will look great next to each other. If you are looking for a little more complexity in your liqueur my suggestion is you try Dimmi Liquore di Milano.
Here is my newest creation with St. Germain that I paired with a floral beer from Southampton.
- 1 1/2 oz Rye Whisky
- 3/4 oz St. Germain
- 1/2 oz of fresh lemon juice
- Top with Southampton’s Cuvée des Fleurs (@ 2 oz).
- Garnish with thyme and a lemon wheel
Shake rye, St. Germain, and the lemon juice with ice. Strain into an ice filled highball glass. Top the cocktail with Cuvée des Fleurs and stir to incorporate. Garnish with thyme and a lemon wheel.