The St. Germain Cocktail
Aug 08, 2012, Updated Jan 06, 2023
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Think of it: the essence of elderflowers distilled into a liqueur, brought to you in an unusual, many-sided bottle, boxed in a shade of blue-green with gold that makes you believe that today is actually situated somewhere in the mid-1920’s. It sounds dazzling, and it tastes ever so. The St. Germain cocktail made its way into the family after my sister ordered an unexpectedly delicious cocktail with the liqueur under a beautiful awning at a rooftop bar in Chicago. This was several years ago, before St. Germain was the hot hot hot stuff it is now. Peg called the bar and asked precisely how did they make that drink? They told her, she bought a bottle, and then another, and hasn’t stopped since.
What we’ve found out along the way is that you best drink the bottle up because the liqueur doesn’t stay nice on your cocktail bar, or in your pantry, for too terribly long. But that’s easily accomplished, the drinking it up. The bottle can be put to other uses, as I saw recently at American Spoon Cafe in Petoskey, where I blessedly had the finest restaurant experience since I left San Francisco (I actually felt relieved by the whole thing and was reminded how much I miss the cooking of exceptional chefs). As if the fabulous cocktail menu, the Heath plates and the clever use of Weck jars weren’t enough to draw you in, along the exposed brick wall behind our table there was a row of St. Germain bottles that had been remolded at the top, serving as vases for a single sunflower in each.
Peg’s version of the St. Germain cocktail goes like this:
5 parts brut champagne or prosecco
2 parts St. Germain
a lemon twist
Mix all in an old-fashioned, bowl-style champagne glass (also known as the coupe style). Because in my opinion this is the most elegant and exciting glass from which to drink. Drop in the twist, but never lemon itself, as lemon juice , mix and St. Germain do not get along.
If you need to chill out more fully (perhaps you had a serious sweat-out on the El riding home from work. Perhaps you were playing around on your phone and missed your stop. Or perhaps you had a wildly wonderful day because it was your last at work before heading off to culinary school). In that case:
2 parts champagne
2 parts club soda
1 ½ parts St. Germain
Fill a nice high-ball glass with ice. There is a particular kind of ice that matters in cocktails, and if you want to get that persnickety I will put you in touch with Peg. Pour all over ice. Finish with a lemon twist.
You are now chilled out completely and ready for an olive, or a pistachio nut, and some conversation on the back deck before we sit down to dinner.