St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur

As I am getting a little long in the tooth, I’ve had the opportunity to see many a great marvel in my lifetime. I’ve seen my TV go from black and white, to colour, to remote control, to digital, to high definition. I’ve gone from turning phone numbers on a dial, to pushing phone numbers on a pad, to saying a name into a tiny portable phone virtually anywhere in the world to contact virtually anyone, anywhere in the world. I’ve gone from travelling to the town library to get information, to browsing the internet at home, to browsing my phone in my pocket. And now I’ve seen an artisanal liqueur live up to its pre-release hype.

St Germain Elderflower Liqueur was released sometime this year to quite a bit of online hype. “Beautiful, art deco bottle!” “Complex, subtle flavours!!” “Made in an artisanal, carefully crafted, French manner!!!” ” Vintage bottling!!!!” “The perfect liqueur!!!!!” (I’ve now run out of exclamation points).

Well, I’ve just received my shipment of the stuff, and after searching thesaurus.com for the proper hyperbole, I’ve come up with: WOW!

As you can see by the picture I’ve taken, it is indeed a beautiful bottle (and two dimensions do not do it justice). Thick glass, beautiful shape and colors and over a foot tall, this package is majestic!

Looking at the label one can see that not only are the bottles individually numbered, but also dated, thereby making this a vintage release. The theory is that as they pick the elderflowers fresh and use them right away, different seasons will yield different crops, which will affect the final product. More on that later. On the back of the label, almost hidden, it says “Fresh, hand selected elderflowers impart a crisp mélange of flavors with hints of citrus and tropical fruits. Très curieux, n’est-ce pas?” Very curious, indeed.

The thing that blew me away (well ok, everything about this product blew me away) was not only was it beautiful, but it tasted great. Not overly sweet (for a liqueur) I got subtle flavors of lychee, peach and citrus: complex and not cloying. (The funny thing is that after tasting, I read the little booklet that comes with the bottle which states that it is “Neither peach nor pear, lychee nor citrus…”) In reality it is all those things, and reminded me a little of Giffard’s Litchi-li, only a more delicate, elegant version. This is a versatile liqueur, and its uses are limited only by one’s own imagination and skill. Obvious pairings are wine-based aperitifs/vermouths, gin, pisco, cachaca, tequila blanco, and sparkling wine.

As if all that wasn’t enough, I read further on to discover some of the methods used in the making of this spirit. First of all, the elderflowers are hand-picked in the Alps. They are then taken, by bicycle, to market, where they are purchased by the distillery. In a matter of days, all the elderflowers for a year’s supply of St Germain are picked, by hand, by 40 to 50 men! In this day and age of technology, I find such a feat incredulous at best. Nonetheless, let’s just say that no detail was overlooked in production of this fine liqueur. The only downside to all of this, is that it severely limits production. They are only able to produce a certain amount of the spirit each year, and that amount will be limited by how good the year’s crop is. Let’s pray for no brush fires, as I don’t know how I would react if I ran out of this fine product with no replacement in the near future in sight.

Below are a couple of recipes that I created upon receiving the bottle. Please get a bottle yourself and let me know what you think of my creations.


LA BICYCLETTE

1 ½ oz Plymouth gin
¾ oz sweet vermouth
¼ oz St. Germain
2 dashes peach bitters

place all into an iced mixing glass and stir
strain into a cocktail glass

garnish with a lemon twist

and….



L’AMOUR EN FUITE


1 ½ oz Plymouth gin
¾ oz Lillet
¼ oz St Germain
absinthe rinse

place all into an iced mixing glass and stir
strain into an absinthe-rinsed cocktail glass


small-st-germain.jpg

Drinks and photo by:
Jamie Boudreau
www.vesselseattle.com

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~ by Jamie Boudreau on June 13, 2007.

28 Responses to “St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur”

  1. I would not call elderflowers a crop. They are a wild flower. Also it is unlikely that these flowers are solely transported by bicycle, or picked solely by men. As gypsies have a huge hand in collection of these flowers it makes it unlikely that it is a male dominated harvest. But the romance of such notions definately aids in the marketing of this “artisanal” product. I say artisanl in such a manner as i think he came up with his own proprietary process for extraction, so not a past technique. Good to see you posting again.

  2. do you know who on the west coast might represent this product? best, kelley

  3. I’m afraid that I’m having difficulty getting St. Germain myself. I’ve emailed the owner and will post when I get a response.

  4. Bevrages and More on Van Ness in San Francisco

  5. I’m enjoying the La Bicyclette right now. I subbed Broker’s gin (never had it before) and Martini and Rossi. The peach and elderflower aromas match quite well, and I love the golden color.

    I really like the initial flavors this cocktail puts out, but I’m left with a sharp alcohol finish. This could be the Broker’s.

    I saw St. Germain as a Chairman’s Special in the PA store near my folks house. I immediately snatched it up.

  6. If you are in the Seattle area, I just saw a few bottles at the U Village liquor store.

  7. Yes, St. Germain is now available in Washington.

  8. Update:

    I forgot to lower the amount of St. Germain and Amaro to 1/2oz. of the St. Germain, and a nice splash of the Amaro. Otherwise, the drink tends to be way too sweet all the way through.

    Enjoy, y’all.

    Thanks for the resource, Jamie. See you soon.

    Andrew

  9. Here’s one for y’all that we came up with here at Liberty. Now – keep in mind that we are a scratch bar, so if possible, make sure that your lemon juice is fresh.

    —–
    The Continental
    Served in a Cocktail Shell
    *2oz Plymouth Gin
    *1oz St. Germain
    *1/2 oz Amaro (Nonino in this case)
    *Garnish with lemon twist.

    Add ingredients to mixing glass, stir, garnish with twist of lemon.

    This is probably the winner of our many experiments with St. Germain. The somewhat bitter Amaro is the only addition that we could find that was able to cut some of the sweetness, but still result in a very drinkable and classy cocktail for almost any drinker.

    Enjoy, and please feel free to let me know which cocktail you enjoyed the most.

    Liberty Bar
    Seattle, Washington
    drink (at) libertybars (dot) com

  10. Love the bottle and the taste, I mixed it with Blood Orange Soda, Champagne and ice. it was great. I just went to my little local store and asked them to order it for me, in a few days I had it, didn’t seem that hard to find, at least here in San DIego

  11. […] come out this year, St. Germain has found its way into many a cocktail lately. Jamie Boudreau has posted about it as has Paul Clarke over at Cocktail Chronicles has as […]

  12. The owner of my restaurant appeared with a bottle of this I can’t recal where he got it from, some freebie i imagine!! Anyways after firstly dismissing it as another bols esq abomination of over sweetend artificial tasting flavour. When I finally did try it, its actually really good and very versatile. Makes a wonderful elderflower and lemongrass cooler, and worked wonderfly well with alot of summer fruit collins, and interestingly enough a variation on a basil grande

  13. […] the East of Eden (which I promise to try next time I go to Bel Ami!). Jamie Boudreau does some fantastic, unusual, and brave things I was too scared to try with darker spirits, since I am in general a weak mixologist, alas. The Cocktail Database has a St. […]

  14. St.Germain is available in FLORIDA..
    May contact Brittany Sales 305-956-9770

  15. I found a shop, but it is in Germany.
    Just checked out the US price, damn $66, in Germany I pay 34€.

  16. […] first one that comes to mind is St. Germain Liqueur. It is made with elderflowers from the Alps. Jamie Boudreau said: The thing that blew me away … was not only was it beautiful, but it tasted great. Not overly […]

  17. […] 2007) 1 bottle Remy Martin VS cognac (or other good brandy) ¼ bottle maraschino liqueur ¼ bottle St. Germain elderflower liqueur 3 bottles Duval-Leroy Rose Champagne (or other good dry Champagne) 10 dashes Angostura bitters 15 […]

  18. Brix Boston also lists a cocktail made with St. Germain Elderflower liqueur called La Bicyclette, I wonder which came first? Yours was published on here several months ahead of theirs, I believe.

    Regardless, the one published here is quite tasty. I subbed out the Cinzano for Vya sweet and it was fantastic.

  19. $31 USD/bottle.

  20. love st germain? become a fan on facebook… http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=898790646&ref=name#/pages/StGermain/66530741949?v=wall&viewas=898790646

  21. […] will quickly realize that the only difference between the Royale and the Aurora is the swap of St. Germain for the orange liqueur.  While perhaps a subtle change, this little substitution makes a big […]

  22. St. Germain is undeniably fine, but there’s something better (although hard to find): Nikolaihof Wachau Hollunderbluten-Biodynamic Elderflower Syrup. The Roosevelt Square Whole Foods here in Seattle stocked up a few cases this spring, but it’s also available on the web:

    http://www.cubemarketplace.com/p-415-nikolaihof-wachau-hollunderbluten-biodynamic-elderflower-syrup-750ml.aspx

    It’s just as sweet as St. Germain but richer and fuller-bodied, not so cloying. It made Robert Hess’ Elderthorn sing:

    http://www.drinkboy.com/Cocktails/Recipe.aspx?itemid=190

    Elderthorn
    1 oz brandy
    1/2 oz Elderthorn syrup
    1/2 oz Cynar

  23. […] Photo via Spiritsandcocktails […]

  24. THE FIRST TIME I TRY ST GERMAIN WAS IN CHICAGO, A WEEK AGO. IT’S SIMPLY THE BEST, NOBLE, SWEET AND REMEMBERABLE TASTE OF A SPIRITS BEBERAGE.

  25. […] Boudreau, who currently works in Seattle at Canon. It’s one of the first cocktails he made when St. Germain elderflower liqueur was initially released, and is a perfect example of his Golden Ratio. (In fact, a drink with the same proportions, made […]

  26. Not at all artisinal and not even made in France. It is a sweet, floral syrup-grade liqueur made in Philadelphia, PA by union workers with hair nets.

    http://smallbusiness.foxbusiness.com/sbc/2011/11/03/blooming-elderflower-liqueur/

    Are you still lusting for a bottle?

  27. Jamie – when aging you La Bicyclette, do you dilute before aging on the french oak or after? Had this at Canon over my honeymoon a couple of months back and now thinking of trying it as a home project here in Houston. Thanks!

  28. k-
    Just like any other aged product, you dilute after barreling. Stronger strength pulls more flavour. Glad that you enjoyed the drink!

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