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.