- Honeysuckle, citrus peel, green herb
- Viscous and sweet. Floral, honey, and a touch of grapefruit
- That floral sweetness intoxicates more than the alcohol
The promise of spring and beautiful weather is captured in a bottle of St-Germain. The elderflower liqueur is sweet and floral with a bit of citrus peel and is unique amongst liqueurs in flavor and scent. Its a favorite of Mrs. Ferment, who voraciously hoards her bottle from eager seekers of St-Germain cocktails.It was out for a while before Mrs. Ferment and I came across it at the annual Michael Arenella and His Dreamland Orchestra Jazz Age Lawn Party two years ago. St-Germain sponsors the event and, therefore, is a major ingredient in the cocktails found at the soiree on Governors Island. There were two types of cocktails, the elegant St-Germain cocktail and the fruit-filled Sangria flora.
- 2 parts dry sparkling wine, Prosecco works well
- 1½ parts St-Germain
- 2 parts seltzer
- lemon peel
DirectionsFill a Collins glass with ice. Pour over ice sparkling wine, St-Germain, seltzer, in that order, and stir. Twist lemon peel over glass, drop it in, and enjoy.
- 1 bottle dry white wine
- 1 cup St-Germain
- 2 peaches, pits removed, sliced, skin on
- 6 strawberries, sliced
- 6 raspberries, whole
- a dozen or so grapes, cut in half
DirectionsThe fruit, while necessary, need not be these particular choices, so feel free to experiment. Put all ingredients into a carafe and refrigerate for 15–30 minutes. Pour over ice-filled Collins glass.
After the event, having enjoyed the cocktails immensely, both of us and our companions, Mr. F～ and Ms. P～, were eager to pick up a bottle as quickly as possible. We found a liquor store nearby that sold St-Germain for $50. This, to Mrs. Ferment and me, is the singular problem with St-Germain—its price—hence Mrs. Ferment’s previously noted hoarding. But we’ve found the liqueur worth it. It has a pleasant viscosity that matches its light golden color, like a honey syrup. There’s honey in its taste profile, too, along with floral honeysuckle and a hint of grapefruit. St-Germain is meant to be an ingredient, though. It’s a touch too sweet to have it as a singular apéritif. But lemon rind and a spritz of bubbly seltzer complement the liqueur so well that they’re both included in many of its cocktail recipes.But we’re frugal here at DnU HQ, to say the least, so I kept a lookout for a generic substitute for St-Germain, another mythical but inexpensive elderflower liqueur. I found one with Llord’s Elderflower Liqueur, at a mere $9. Clear, and less viscous, Llord’s version has none of the subtleties of St-Germain. It smells and tastes like a cheap, sweetened vanilla rum, the type of vanilla flavoring that comes from burnt trees and not vanilla beans. Still, since St-Germain is more of an ingredient than a stand-alone, I decided to conduct a blind taste-test. I mixed two batches of the St-Germain cocktail, one with real St-Germain and the other with the generic. Then I walked away as a helper poured each version in to small cups; only she would know which was poured into which. She distributed these cups to six people, including me, four of whom had not ever tried either version before. Four of us, including Mrs. Ferment and me, preferred, by a wide margin, the St-Germain version. Mrs. Ferment and I were also not fooled by the impostor, since we had the real stuff in the past. Two of our testers actually preferred the vanilla-ish flavor of the LLord’s, specifically calling out the vanilla against the more citrusy flavor the St-Germain. Due to this, those two will never be invited to another DnU taste-test as I can no longer trust their judgment. (Only kidding. We love our testers, no matter how unsophisticated their palates may be.)
Mrs. Ferment and I had to concede that there was nothing like the real thing. We’ve since found St-Germain as cheap as $40 for a 750ml bottle. It’s liquid gold, so we try to stock up on it as we can. The dear sister of Mrs. Ferment gifted her a bottle for her birthday, slightly relieving our self-imposed embargo on making cocktails with it.
There’s a wonderful story behind the origin of St-Germain, and the French artisans who pick fresh elderflowers in early spring and hand-press them to release the flowers’ essence. And the marketing for it makes it seem like a drink popular during Prohibition. It’s all a bit hard for me to swallow, having a bit of knowledge about how anything mass-marketed is made and advertised, but, thankfully, St-Germain itself is not at all difficult to swallow, so I’m happily caught in its fantastic, romantic allure.