As the lazy days of summer progress, wine and spirits connoisseurs turn to libations with a light touch. Enter St-Germain, a new artisanal liqueur whose delicate but complex flavors capture the essence of the season.
Launched in March by Robert Cooper, a third-generation distiller, the honey-yellow liqueur is made from fresh elderflower, an herb previously renowned for its medicinal properties. With its additional hints of pear, grapefruit, Meyer lemon and cane sugar—a combination that blends well with gin, Champagne, vodka and Sauvignon Blanc—St-Germain has quickly developed a following among the cocktail cognoscenti.
Cooper, who is the former brand manager and part-owner of Chambord, first became obsessed with elderflower after tasting a cocktail made with a homemade elderflower syrup in a London bar seven years ago. When he discovered that no liqueur made from the same essence existed, he set about creating one.
“I wanted to capture a snapshot of the flavor at its peak of freshness,” says Cooper. “I was adamant that in order to do it right, it could only be made using fresh flowers.” Once he found a source—fields of the plant growing wild in the French Alps—Cooper hired local farmers to harvest the blossoms by hand during its 4-5 day harvest season.
For all its niche qualities—the numbered, limited-edition bottles and picturesque back story—at a very reasonable $32, St-Germain was created for drinking, not collecting. “It’s artisanal but affordable,” says Cooper. “You can make
a pitcher of St-Germain cocktails using a whole bottle and enjoy it with your friends without thinking, ‘I just spent a mortgage payment.”