St. Germain is a relatively new liqueur from France, which uses hand-harvested elderflowers picked from the foothills of the Alps. Elderflowers are small, delicate, white flowers that bloom for just a few days every year, and have long been used in herbal remedies throughout Europe. Transported from the hills on the bicycles of the pickers, the Elderflowers are then added to eau de vie, using a secret process, along with citrus and sugar to create St. Germain Elderflower liqueur.
The bottle is quite simply stunning. Honestly, I’d buy it just for the looks, even if the actual liqueur tasted like bleach. Thankfully though St. Germain not only looks good, but tastes good too. Unlike Elderflower cordial the Elderflower taste is not overwhelming, and also contains hints of lyche, sweet fruit and some subtle floral notes. Unlike a lot of liqueurs it is not overly sweet, with a slight tartness when first sipped, which makes it great for drinking straight.
However, as nice as it was on its own, I wanted to give St. Germain a try in a cocktail recently created and recommended to me by Stephan Berg, one of the two guys behind the wonderful The Bitter Truth bitters. Most cocktails using St. Germain seem to pair it with Champagne or white wine, but this makes use of gin and Noilly Ambre, which sounded much more interesting to me.
- 1 shot Hendrick’s gin
- 1 shot Noilly Ambre
- ⅓ shot St. Germain Elderflower liqueur
- 2 dashes orange bitters
- Stir well with ice and strain in to a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
The initial taste of the Amber Room is a nice mix of gin and Noilly Ambre. The Hendrick’s gin works really well with the Noilly Ambre, toning back the sweetness while accentuating the key flavours. The Elderflower comes through towards the end providing an interesting taste that works well with the dryness that the Noilly Ambre starts to reveal.
If you’re ever in doubt over the usefulness of lemon zest as anything other than a decorative feature, you just need to try the Amber Room with and without it. Before adding the zest, the cocktail has a sweet edge which is just slightly too far in the direction of sickly for my tastes. Once zest has been applied however, the balance is just right.
Big thanks to Stephan for creating the Amber Room and suggesting the cocktail to me. It comes highly recommended!
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