Cigar Aficionado

Cocktailing with Elderflowers

How I got to this state on a Sunday afternoon:

About two weeks ago, arrives on my desk a bottle of St.-Germain, a liqueur made from elderflowers and packaged in an outrageously cool-looking bottle that looks like one of those spaceships rendered in cartoons before they had spaceships. I’ve been dying to try it since.

Today, it’s sitting there on the counter mocking me just as the clock strikes noon. The hour is now! Crack it open and take a whiff. Obviously, very flowery, but also sweet and a bit fruity, but not overpoweringly so—like pears or peaches—with the slightest nuttiness. The scent doesn’t disappoint on the tongue. It’s a classy little product, befitting Rob Cooper, known for Chambord, who developed it using fresh macerated Alpine elderflowers, wine eau de vie and some sugar.

This is made for a cocktail. But which? Go to the web for help. It’s pretty new stuff so I’m not finding a lot of suggestions. Then locate 14 recipes at this address, supplied by a Simon Diffords, who runs a cocktail site called Diffords Guides and is the UK brand manager for St.-Germain.

Scroll through the possibilities, eliminating them as I go along:

The St. Germain Cocktail—contains Sauvignon Blanc wine, out of the question
French 77—unwilling to crack a bottle of Champagne to make one cocktail
Left Bank—don’t have the requisite Plymouth gin
Right Bank—again Sauvignon Blanc
The Stig—calvados AND Sauvignon Blanc
Daisy Cutter Martini—sounds intriguing but contains Green Chartreuse
Saint Germain Sidecar—Almost drawn in, but then find, hidden at the end of the list, this:

Elderflower Manhattan

Glass: Martini
Garnish: Maraschino cherry in drink
Method: SHAKE all ingredients with ice and fine strain into chilled glass.
2 shot(s) Bourbon whiskey
1 shot(s) St. Germain liqueur
½ shot(s) Dry vermouth
2 dashes Angostura aromatic bitters

Perfect for a guy like me. Make one by the book, but it’s too sweet. Thinking that’s because I didn’t shake it enough to let the ice chill out the sugar. Make another. Shake for almost a minute. Better, but still too sweet. Up the Bourbon quotient to three parts. Getting there. Take Bourbon (Wild Turkey 101) to four parts. Right on. This is just a great cocktail, hitting on all cylinders, sweet, tart, slightly spicy with a touch of something savory. But why dry vermouth? What if use sweet vermouth? That’s good too. But probably really should try it perfect (half sweet and half dry vermouth) to get the full experience. What was I talking about?