How to elevate your cocktails with elderflower liqueur

Confession: a bottle of St-Germain elderflower liqueur has been sitting unopened on my drinks trolley for the last two years because I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it.

So I decided to get some advice from an expert, Bacardi-Martini Australia Ambassador Joseph Chisholm, so I could learn what makes the liqueur unique and the best ways to serve it.

“What we find most unique about St-Germain is the elderflowers within it,” Chisolm said. “They’re grown wild in the mountains at about 400 metres above sea level, as superior elderflowers tend to grow at higher altitudes. We work closely with the farmers who tend to the land and care for their crops. Their elderflowers aren’t farmed, they grow wild in the hills. Every year, a cooperative of farmers go out into the hills from daybreak to dusk, in order to pick the elderflowers over the three to four week season late in spring. The farmers handpick at exactly the right time, before the blossom goes too far. They also need to be handled with extreme care as the blossom which holds the flavour could spoil.”

According to Chisholm, the liqueur was created to satisfy a new wave of bars and bartenders that emerged in the early 2000s. Their cocktail counter culture was sophisticated and nuanced, and he said these sensibilities continue to define the modern cocktail era.

During that time, bartenders everywhere were reimagining everything, from the way they described themselves as mixologists to the way their bars looked. There was a newfound appreciation of craftsmanship, natural flavours, and liquids that allowed bartenders to express their own creativity and imagination in fresh ways.

The thirst for elderflower drinks has been gathering momentum since then and has been boosted in recent years by the rise of spritzes.

“St-Germain is definitely a summer hit with Australia consumers who are seeking refreshing and vibrant cocktails,” Chisholm (above) said.

“The flavour profile of St-Germain not only includes all-natural elderflower, but is also perfectly complimented by subtle and delicate notes of peach, pear and grapefruit. These fresh, floral and fruity flavours make it a crowd pleaser. The versatility of the liquor also means it can be enjoyed for any occasion including brunch, aperitif and dinner.”

As for the difference between elderflower cordial and St-Germain, elderflower cordial uses sugar and flavour extract to create the flavour, where as St-Germain uses maceration with alcohol to extract the light blossom flavour from the flowers. Both can be used in cocktails, with the cordial used as a sugar alternative and St Germain used as modifier to highlight floral notes in other ingredients. 

Elderflower liqueur is best suited to long refreshing drinks or sour style cocktails, as it has a light aromatic flavour. Chisholm cautions that you don’t want to overpower it with spice, bold berries or rich flavours.

The liqueur was recently named No.6 on the Best Selling Liqueurs list by Drinks International, which Chisholm said was an exciting accolade for the brand to receive from the world’s best bartenders.

If you’re trying St-Germain for the first time, he suggests it’s perfect in a spritz such the Le Grand Fizz, or swap out triple sec in your Patron margarita or add to to a Bombay Gin Sour.

Here are three delicious cocktail recipes containing the liqueur.

St-Germain Le Grand Fizz

  • 45ml Grey Goose Vodka
  • 20ml St-Germain
  • 10ml fresh lime juice, 
  • 60ml soda water

Method: Add all ingredients into a large wine glass, fill with ice and swizzle to serve. Garnish with a lime wheel and mint sprig.

St-Germain Spritz

  • 45ml St-Germain
  • 60ml Prosecco
  • 60ml soda water

Method: Add all ingredients into a spritz glass, swizzle to combine. Add cubed ice. Garnish to serve with a lemon wheel & lavender sprig.

Elderflower & Cucumber Cooler

  • 45ml Bombay Sapphire
  • 25ml St-Germain
  • 20ml lemon juice
  • 5ml sugar
  • Cucumber

Method: Muddle cucumber into the bottom of the cocktail shaker, add rest of ingredients, add ice and shake. Double strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a long thin cucumber ribbon around the inside of the glass.

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Categories: Lifestyle