Thursday, May 3, 2007

St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur


The summer sheets are on the bed, the vase on the table is crammed with cherry-red tulips, and I've discovered something new to incorporate into my warm weather drinks repertoire. St-Germain is a new French liqueur made from elderflowers. It was launched this March by Robert Cooper of Chambord fame. And whether it’s straight up, on the rocks with soda, or drizzled into my white wine or prosecco as an alternative to kir, I can’t seem to get enough of the stuff. This is no small problem, as it’s apparently quite rare.

Elderflower or Sambucus Nigra season is impossibly short-lived. Apparently said Mr. Cooper has about 45 men with bicycles in his employ – the company terms them les hommes bohemians – who ride into the foothills of the French Alps for a few days each spring to harvest the blossoms and bring them back down to market.

As the St-Germain blurb points out, “To put this in context, we can safely say that no men, bohemian or otherwise, will be riding the hillsides of Poland this spring gathering wild potatoes for your vodka.” Fair comment, I say.

The flavor of the elderflowers is extracted through maceration with eau de vie, citrus essence, and cane sugar, making this the first ever alcoholic elderflower drink – remember how popular elderflower cordial was in cocktails a few years ago?

The end product, presented in a belle-époque-inspired glass bottle, is soothing to the sight – a pale, floral, greenish hue imparts a feeling of tranquility and refreshment before I even pour the first glass. With the first sip comes lychee and grapefruit, then meyer lemon and pear. At the back, a little green apple (and maybe white pepper?)

The end result is a deep feeling of contentment. I’m soothed and revived, wanting neither more nor less. And that’s exactly how I like to feel at the end of a warm spring day. I'm sure les bohemians would agree. Serve chilled.

4 comments:

David said...

well, I really enjoy this blog, but this smacks of advertising

Anonymous said...

Another great post. What I like most about the site is how you expose your readers to interesting and unusual items such as elderflower liquer. I now know about its history and how much effort is involved in its creation. I can't wait to try my first glass!

Figs, Olives, Wine said...

Hi David,
Thanks so much for your comments. I actually did think about the whole advertising issue before posting, and I came to the decision that writing about a new 1-of-a-kind, artisanal product was different from writing about, say, Absolut Vodka's new flavor. Until someone else discovers a way to turn elderflowers into an alcoholic beverage, St-Germain is synonymous with elderflower liqueur. I had thought about including some recommendations for the best places to shop for St-Germain on-line, but this is where I drew the line. Ultimately, and most importantly, this is a product that inspires me, and that's exactly what I try to share with the Figs Olives Wine community!

Thanks again for your thoughts - it's great to get feed back from my readers, and I'm so glad you're enjoying the blog!
Amanda

Aeiedil said...

Hey there,

I was in my local supermarket on the Saturday just gone, browsing the spirits for something new to try. I saw the rather distinctive bottle containing the drink you describe here.

The price was a bit higher than I wanted to spend, however any year where my mum has been fortunate enough to be able to find elderflowers she has made elderflower liquer. Sadly those years are few, and I always miss elderflower when it's at the right time for harvesting.

The recipe she uses is identical pretty much to that used by St Germain from the sounds of it. When I opened the bottle, the smell was perfect. I seriously think that I have found my new drink of choice.

I only hope that I am able to find it as and when I would like it, I already hold little hope of ever finding it anywhere other than the more well-stocked cocktail bars.

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