Hot Topic: St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur: A French Liqueur By Way Of The Alps
By The Nibble
Updated June 14, 2010
CAPSULE REPORT: This splendid liqueur may be made from Alpine elderflowers, but any expert would call out “lychee!” Elderflower liqueur (elderflower cordial) makes simply superb sipping by itself, but with a splash of Champagne or club soda, it’s a summer cocktail. We poured it over fruit and sorbet. Whether you’re headed to the pool or planning an elegant dinner, St. Germain elderflower liqueur is something special. The 12"-tall bottle is as stunning as any perfume bottle, and makes an impressive gift. In terms of new and exciting, when was the last time anyone had an elderflower martini?
Delicate white elderflower blossoms grow on trees at the foothills of the Alps. As pretty as they are to look at, they are actually edible—or at least, drinkable, when made into liqueur. To that end, locals handpick the blossoms, which are distilled in small batches into a 100% elderflower blossom 40-proof liqueur made by French artisan company St. Germain. Take off the cap and the loveliest of lychee aromas hits you immediately. There’s a bit of peach, some orange that evolves to grapefruit, and maybe some pear, but this is lychee heaven. We tasted it next to a lychee liqueur. There was no comparison—the “official” lychee liqueur wasn’t even lychee-like. Every lychee lover should beat a path to St. Germain’s door.
The lovely fruity-floral aroma and flavor of lychee have long been seductive to wine lovers, as any person passionate about Gewürtztraminer* will attest. Now, all of the intense fruit flavors we seek in a glass of Gewürtz are concentrated big-time in St. Germain. We are happy drinkers! But more, we have used practically the whole bottle to cook with. It’s time to get another.
*Pronounced guh-VERTZ-trah-mee-nur, the grape has been traditionally grown in the cool-climate regions of Austria, Germany and the Alsace region of France. It is now planted in other regions including Australia, British Columbia, California, Oregon, New York state, Washington state and New Zealand.
When we first heard “elderflowers,” we thought the bottle might transport us to the Alpine meadows and “The Sound of Music.” It’s more sweetly exotic than green meadows, but fresh, light and fruity nevertheless. If you’re looking for something new and different to sip, try St. Germain. Definitely give a bottle to every Gewürtztraminer lover you know. The handsome bottle design makes it an impressive house gift for weekends and dinner parties, too.
Don’t just take our word for it. St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur was a double gold medal winner at the 2007 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. This makes it the new hot drink you can cool off with—straight up, on ice, or in the seven recipes below. Who would imagine so many exciting things from such sweet little blossoms?
Cooking With St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
Think of St. Germain as you would Grand Marnier or other liqueurs you cook with, and substitute it freely in recipes. Here’s what we did:
Hors D’Oeuvres: Mixed with fresh goat cheese (any fresh cheese works) in dips, on crostini, stuffed into kumquats and peppadews.
Seafood: Mix with butter or olive oil and brush onto grilled seafood, add to sauces for seafood, deglaze pan.
Sides: Add a bit to rice (along with optional lemon or orange zest), with mashed sweet potatoes.
Fruit: Toss with fruit salad or add a tablespoon to salad dressing (including fruit and protein salads—chicken, duck, pork, seafood)
Desserts: Pour over lemon, orange or pineapple sorbet or vanilla ice cream (or other flavors in the berry or citrus family); make elderflower “snow cones,” pouring over shaved ice in a martini glass; delicious with roasted pineapple.
Hot Topic Archives