Spirits Around the World: St-Germain

Made from elderflower, this liqueur pairs perfectly with any flavor profile.

Every good cocktail begins with a just-right combination of flavors. The trouble is, it takes a certain kind of spirit to both mix well with others and stand strongly on its own. That is, it takes a certain kind of liqueur, like St-Germain.

Made in France, St-Germain is an elderflower liqueur dependent on time. Although not rare, wild elderflower blossoms can be picked only for a few weeks each spring. (Each bottle of St-Germain is individually numbered to reflect the year the flowers were picked.) To make matters trickier, the subtle flavor of the flower can be garnered only through more antiquated techniques. Instead of pressing or freezing the flowers, which would be a faster method, the blossoms undergo a maceration process to achieve the liqueur’s signature warm floral notes.

But the end result speaks for itself—St-Germain offers the perfect aromatic complement to many a drink. Test it for yourself with these St-Germain cocktails from Food & Wine

For the wine drinker: Sangria Flora
What you need: 
  • One bottle sauvignon blanc
  • 1 ½ cups St-Germain
  • ¼ cup Cointreau
  • 6 strawberries, sliced ¼-inch thick
  • 6 raspberries
  • 2 peaches, sliced ¼-inch thick
  • 1 orange, thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1 pound green and red grapes
  • Ice
 
How to make it: Combine all ingredients into a large pitcher. Let stand in room temperature for three hours or refrigerate overnight. Serve in wine glasses over ice. Serves 8.
 
For the tequila drinker: St. Rosemary
What you need:
  • Leaves from a 1-inch rosemary sprig, plus 1 rosemary sprig for garnish
  • ¼ ounce fresh lime juice
  • Ice
  • 1 ¾ ounces reposado tequila
  • ¾ ounce St-Germain
  • 1 ¼ ounces apple juice, preferably unfiltered
 
How to make it: In a cocktail shaker, muddle the rosemary leaves with the lime juice. Add ice and all remaining ingredients except garnish and shake well. Double strain into a chilled coupe and garnish with rosemary sprig. Serves 1. 
 
For the gin drinker: Capricious
What you need:
  • Ice 
  • 1 ½ ounces gin
  • ½ ounce St-Germain
  • ½ ounce dry vermouth
  • 2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
  • 1 lemon twist, for garnish

How to make it: Fill glass with ice. Add gin, St-Germain, vermouth and bitters and stir well. Strain into a chilled coupe and garnish with lemon twist. 

For the brandy drinker: Mr. Stair
What you need:
  • Ice
  • 2 ounces pear eau de vie
  • ¾ ounce St-Germain
  • ½ ounce fresh lemon juice
  • ½ ounce fresh cucumber juice, made from strained pureed cucumber
  • ¼ ounce simple syrup
  • Dash orange bitters
  • 1 long, thin cucumber sliver threaded onto skewer for garnish 

How to make it: Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add all ingredients except the cucumber garnish and shake well. Strain into a chilled coupe and garnish.