LITTLE-KNOWN EUROPEAN LIQUEUR IS THE HOT NEW COCKTAIL
Warm summer months call for lighter beverages and I recently discovered a little known liqueur, which is suddenly the drink-du-jour at New York City hot-spots. Recently, I dined at NYC hot-spot Buddakan for a celebratory dinner in honor of my niece, Heather’s, birthday. It was a hot, steamy night and my usual glass of red wine was deemed to heavy so I asked the bartender for a suggestion: something light and sweet. On the silver platter he presented Fate, a Buddakan specialty cocktail which contains prosecco (Italian sparking wine), pineapple and a mystery liqueur, elderflower. I hadn’t a clue what elderflower was, but he assured me I would like it and one sip of the tangerine colored martini glass had me downing the cocktail in less than five minutes flat. What is this mystery elderflower I begged him to tell me? I loved it and needed to have one for myself. He presented this beautiful bottle of ST-GERMAIN liqueur, a brand I had never heard of. Seeing the delight in my eyes, he poured me a shot of the elderflower straight up, so I could dissect the flavors without the distraction of other elements. I sipped slowly, taking my time like with a fine wine. I wanted to savor every moment. Needless to say, my bar tab at the end of the night neared $350 so I obviously enjoyed many Fate’s on that “fateful” night, which ended at a tattoo parlor on St. Marks Place.
The next day I was on a mission: find ST-GERMAIN. That’s the hard part, since very few liquor stores carry the little known brand. I finally lucked out on Friday when I discovered a local liquor store had started carrying my new favorite cocktail mixer. Heather was in town so we quickly went home to start experimenting with new variations of the Fate, but in the end I settled for the prosecco and St-Germain combination. Simple and sweet.
So what’s all the hype about? Next time you are out at a NYC hot-spot, scan the drink menu and I bet you see elderflower. In fact, I’ve ordered various versions of the original Fate at numerous other watering holes recently. Last month, the New York Post ran an article on ST-GERMAIN saying: “If any liqueur is having an NYC moment, it’s this one.”
The bottle alone is a conversation piece, resembling an antique Parisian bottle perhaps found at an antique market. In fact, my Mom couldn’t stop talking about what a beautiful bottle it is. I was surprised to find out the elixir is relatively new, and not a French recipe handed down through generations.
St-Germain (pronounced San-Jer-Man) is an all-natural elderflower liqueur produced in France. It’s made from 100% fresh, handpicked elderflowers, which bloom in the foothills of the Alps for only 2-3 weeks in late spring. Since the flower is delicate, and tends to lose its fragrance and flavor in a matter of days, St-Germain processes the fresh, handpicked blossoms as soon as they are biked down the Alps by French farmers.
The liqueur itself is a light pale gold color and a medium light body. The aroma is primarily flowers and fruit, and is lightly sweet and tart. The taste is floral with a hint of citrus. I can’t even thoroughly explain the smooth taste, but can say it’s refreshing and light. I’ve enjoyed it mixed with cocktails, but it’s also nice straight up on the rocks.
Retails for $35 per bottle. http://www.stgermain.fr/