Did everyone read Kate Latts’ FACES of Louisville post? She is the Director of Marketing for Heaven Hill, and I asked her what her favorite drink was that was not her own product. Her answer was St-Germain and champagne.

Since then, I’ve noticed that St-Germain (pronounced like Saint Germaine) is on cocktail menus at lots of restaurants. It seems to be everywhere, but what is it?

A bottle of St Germain

Image credit: St-Germain.

I called my drink expert Josh Durr, my bartender bootcamp instructor from Hawthorn Beverage Group, to tap into his encyclopedic knowledge of all things alcohol. Here’s what I discovered from Josh, which makes this elderflower liqueur all the more interesting:

St-Germain has only been on the market since 2007. It was developed by a man named Rob Cooper. Rob Cooper’s father, Sky Cooper, developed the liqueur Chambord (I know you have heard of this one). Chambord was sold to another familiar name, Brown-Forman in 2006. Rob used to work for his father at Chambord, so he knew the in’s and out’s of the business. Rob’s brother John developed a ginger liqueur called Domaine de Canton about a year later. (It is very unusual for family members to each develop their own liqueurs.)

Rob Cooper. Image credit: spiritmeaway.com

St-Germain is made from elderflowers grown in France. They only blossom for three weeks out of the year and they have to be picked immediately. A small number of farmers pick these flowers and then, according to the website, they are bicycled into town to be pressed. The pressing of the petals creates the flavor that serves as the foundation for the liqueur.

A Frenchman picking elderflowers for St Germain liqueur

Picking the elderflowers in France. Image credit: St- Germain

Because of their limited yield, not many batches are produced every year, which puts it in the artisanal liqueur category. Each bottle is numbered and dated with the vintage.

Elderflowers are bagged up and bicycled into town to the distiller, where they are pressed. This extract is the foundation for St-Germain. Image credit: St- Germain.

St-Germain is considered a “modifier,” which means that it modifies the flavor of a base spirit to make it more complex. It plays well with all of the light alcohols:  gin, tequila, light rum, vodka, white wines, light beers, and champagne. It does not marry as well with the darker alcohols. It is not overly sweet, which makes it a good modifier because it adds a different flavor and is not just a “sugar bomb.” Josh Durr refers to it as “bartender’s ketchup” because you can “put it into everything.” He says that most bars or restaurants here have at least one drink that includes the liqueur.

So now you know the history behind what you are drinking, and here are some drinks you can make or order with St-Germain.

These are all from the St-Germain website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mojito Parisien with St Germain

 

If you want to try some other great drinks that incorporate St-Germain, click here to read StyleBlueprint Nashville’s post about drinking cocktails and porches.

Cheers!