The one liqueur that just about any mixologist will agree works with every spirit and makes any drink taste delicious is St-Germain. This French liqueur is made by macerating fresh, handpicked elderflower blossoms in an eau-de-vie (a clear, grape-based spirit) and pure cane sugar. The resulting liquid exhibits a fruity, floral aroma, with flavors white grape, peach and honeysuckle on the palate. Unlike most liqueurs, it’s not too sweet and offers a delicate layer of complexity that complements everything from vodka to Tequila to sparkling wine. Add a splash to a flute of brut Champagne for extra elegance.
There’s all these different things you can do with St-Germain that always produce a delicious result. It’s the bridge that so many flavors are looking for. -tip from bartender Ivy Mix
Ivy Mix—a bartender at two Julie Reiner–owned hotspots, Lani Kai in Manhattan and Clover Club in Brooklyn—touts St-Germain as a staple of any bar. “St-Germain is always in my arsenal, and I frequently use it as a modifier with gin,” she explains. “I’ll look at classic recipes, and if the drink calls for Lillet or vermouth or maraschino, I’ll use St-Germain to get a different taste profile.” Mix finds the elderflower liqueur particularly useful when a customer asks her to make a cocktail that’s light and refreshing. “Generally speaking, especially if I’m busy, I just make them a Tom Collins with St-Germain,” she says.
Since I’m a gin girl at heart, that concoction sounds perfect to me. My go-to drink is gin and grapefruit juice, particularly when I’m at a bar that doesn’t offer specialty cocktails, so I decided to add a little pink citrus into the mix. For the base spirit, I went with Caorunn, a new gin from Scotland that’s made with five unique Celtic ingredients, including rowan berry, coul blush apple, dandelion, heather and bog myrtle. It’s got a round, fruity flavor that pairs well with the St-Germain. However, I also recommend Broker’s or New Amsterdam, which are both high-quality gins that run less than $20 a 750-ml. bottle. A Tom Collins is usually garnished with a maraschino cherry, but I chose a fresh Rainier cherry for its color and ripeness. The cocktail makes for a great long drink on a hot day, or any day really.
2 ounces gin (such a Caorunn, Broker’s or New Amsterdam)
3/4 ounce St-Germain elderflower liqueur
1 1/2 ounces fresh grapefruit juice
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
Seltzer water or club soda
Shake the gin, liqueur and juices in a shake with ice until the tin is frosty. Strain into an ice-filled Collins glass and top with seltzer water. Garnish with the lemon wheel and cherry.