St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur
by Jeff Hoyt
Back in the 70s, Elton John extolled the virtues of drinking "Elderberry Wine." But one taste of St-Germain today could easily inspire him to wax poetically on Elderflower Liqueur.
St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur is the creation of Robert Cooper, third generation distiller and former owner of Chambord liqueur. The president of Cooper Spirits International wants us to believe that for a few spring days, when the delicate, white elderflower blossoms are at their flavorful peak, men gather sacks of them from the foothills of the Alps and transport them using specially-rigged bicycles. They are then sent to the distillery quickly and macerated—steeped in alcohol to absorb almost all of the aroma, flavor and color—in order to maximize freshness and flavor. The manufacturing process is secret, but involves eau de vie, distillation and the addition of citrus and cane sugar.
We don’t know how much of the back-story of “the first liqueur in the world created in the artisanal French manner from freshly handpicked elderberry blossoms” to trust, but the result is a delightful drink that plays on one’s tongue. Velvety smooth with a floral nose, the golden 40-proof liquid made in France and newly available in the U.S. is sweet and seductive, not saccharine. The enjoyable lychee-like flavor is very similar to that of Soho Lychee Liqueur, but more sophisticated, with a hint of pear. It can be substituted for non-alcoholic elderberry flavorings in cocktails, mixed with white wine, or enjoyed straight from its individually numbered bottle at room temperature. Try The Can-Can martini.
St-Germain Can-Can Martini
2 oz. Vodka or Gin
1 1/2 oz. St-Germain
1/4 oz. Dry Vermouth or Dry White Wine
Shake all ingredients with ice and fine strain into a chilled Martini glass. Garnish with lemon or orange twist.