St. Germain

September 21st, 2007

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.

Amber Room cocktail with Hendrick's Gin, St Germain, Noilly Ambre and The Bitter Truth Orange bitters bottles in the background

Amber Room

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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Posted in Gin, Orange Bitters, Recipes, St. Germain, Vermouth

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8 responses to “St. Germain”

  1. Anita Anita says:

    I agree that the wine/bubbly route is perhaps too easy and not as impressive as mixing with other spirits. We worked up an Aviation variation using St-Germain instead of the maraschino:

    http://marriedwithdinner.com/2007/06/22/dotw-le-bourget/

    And also on our site, there’s a post about a drink using gin, chartreuse, and St-Germain with muddled cantaloupe and peppercorns… the Can-Can. I won’t bury you in more links, but if you search our blog for “germain” you’ll find them both

  2. Jamie Boudreau Jamie Boudreau says:

    Gin, vermouth, bitters, St. Germain…it sounds familiar, but from where?
    http://spiritsandcocktails.wordpress.com/2007/06/13/st-germain-elderflower-liqueur/

    I’ve always said great palates think alike.
    I started the Bicyclette the same way as Stephan..with the Martinez.
    Nice picture, as well. I love how you keep showing off your Bitter Truth bitters, as if the Noilly Amber wasn’t bad enough. Lucky dog.

  3. Jay Jay says:

    Funnily enough Anita I was going to cover that cocktail along with the Amber Room, but didn’t quite get around to it. I will definitely be trying it soon though.

    Jamie – similar indeed. I must pick up some peach bitters one of these days, there are a whole bunch of your drinks I want to try that make use of them.

    You’ll have to excuse the parading of the Noilly Ambre and Bitter Truth bitters, but it’s not often things are easier for me to get hold of than for you guys over the pond, so I’m going to show off while I can! ;)

  4. The Pegu Blog says:

    [...] I looked to my regular cocktail blogging haunts. Jay’s latest post has a recipe that uses it. It looked tasty, but I had a mission. Gabriel has a pretty neat (har!) tasting [...]

  5. Debbi Debbi says:

    Looking to buy St Germain Elderflower liquer or cordial in the Orlando area.

  6. Matt Matt says:

    This is a little old, but I did just try this. Jay, you are absolutely right about the lemon twist. That brought the whole drink together.

    Excellent.

  7. frenchman frenchman says:

    “St germain is a relatively new liqueur from..”… from the american marketing.
    This thing is no french at all.

  8. oudev oida oudev oida says:

    What’s that they say on the radio? Long time listener, first time caller… Anyway, i just mutated the Amber Room into my own incarnation: dubbed the Tawny Allowance- jigger plymouth gin, 1/2 jigger lillet, 1/4 ounce st. germain, 2 dashes orange bitters, STIRRED with ice, add lemon twist. Anyway, thanks!

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Artwork by Craig Mrusek

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