Thursday, January 5, 2012

Alien Ingredient #2: St. Germain

Elderberries: we're surrounded by them. We even have a guy who supplies local elderberry syrup to the restaurant. So with all that, you'd think I would be up on elderflowers and their potential. Not so.

I've been reading a lot about St. Germain over the last year: I get a lot of trade magazines and many of them have articles on the resurgence of the classic cocktail and the use of all kinds of specialty liquors, liqueurs, and bitters. I keep seeing cocktail after cocktail featuring St. Germain, an elderberry flower liqueur just launched in 2007.

We don't have a big bar program at the restaurant and so I don't get to play with all that many new drink ingredients. And I live in the Commonwealth of Virginia, a lovely control state where the state has the liquor monopoly. What this means is that we restaurants (Bar? Bar? You can't have no stinkin' bar in the antediluvian Commonwealth!), especially those of us not located in the major metro areas, can have a hell of a time getting specialty beverages such as St. Germain.

In fact, I think I tried about a year ago to acquire some St. Germain, only to be confounded by the Commonwealth. For giggles I tried it again last week and was surprised to find it on the standard price list, not the special order list, and was even more shocked to find that our local ABC store had it on the shelf.

Maybe those of you who frequent the ABC store already knew this, but I did not. It's not like we hang out down there with a restaurant to run and all. Also, we just cannot walk in down there and buy liquor. We have to phone or fax the order in and then go pick it up at least 24 hours later. So, we have no incentive to visit our friends at the local ABC store and thus are the very last to know what is in stock.

Long story short, a bottle arrived at the restaurant and I cracked the top. Wow! Now I knew what the fuss was about. This liqueur has a gorgeous perfume of passion fruit, pears, dried peaches, and dried apricots, but mainly of passion fruit. I could definitely work with this.

I can see lots of dessert and sauce applications for this liqueur. How about a splash of it in a fruit salsa, or crème anglaise, or crème brûlée? But mostly I can see excellent cocktails and I devised one that is still unnamed.

1-1/2 parts vodka
1-1/2 parts St. Germain
1/4 part Campari
2 dashes orange bitters
1/2 part fresh lemon juice
1/2 part simple syrup
Float of prosecco

Rim a chilled martini glass with colored sugar (this cocktail is tart). Shake all ingredients except the prosecco and strain into the glass. Float prosecco on top. Cheers!

Vote: Bartender, hit me one more time! A must-have for our bar and our dessert menu.


  1. I did nor realize St Germain was such a new liqueur. I would have bet it was hundreds (well decades!) old.
    I love fresh elderblossoms which are easily foraged in Virginia (as you know) to make syrups & ice-cream, cordials and lemonade. Getting all the flowers from the stems is a rather tedious job though...

  2. PS - I never had St Germain. Time to check the ABC. Thanks for the tip.

  3. You may need a code if your ABC doesn't carry St. Germain and has to order it from the central warehouse in Richmond: 066836 is the 750ml bottle.

  4. You should call it, Arsenic and Old Lace. It's from that old movie where the cute elderly sisters poison unsuspecting boarders with elderberry wine, and bury them in their basement. Or wait till October, and work it into the Halloween theme with "Elderburied Alive." Mwah ha ha!

  5. Shannon's suggestions are pretty awesome. I'll also suggest Respect Your Elders.