February 12, 2014 in Food

St. Germain brings cocktail flavor to the fore

By The Spokesman-Review
Adriana Janovich photo

Italia Trattoria in Spokane’s Browne’s Addition uses St. Germain, the French spirit made from fresh elderflowers, in several cocktails, including the frothy Sgroppino, made with sorbet (foreground), and the Splendidamente, which also features limoncello.
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

St. Germain, the delicate elderflower liqueur from France, makes an aromatic addition to all kinds of cocktails.

In fact, the floral, slightly sweet and citrus-y spirit is so versatile it’s become known in the beverage industry as “bartender’s ketchup.”

“It’s beautiful. It opens up almost any cocktail,” said Pauly Devine, bar manager at downtown Spokane’s Volstead Act. He also sometimes refers to St. Germain as “bartender’s bacon.”

Bright and fragrant but not cloying or tart, the 40-proof elderflower elixir has been compared to an über-concentrated gewürtztraminer. With notes of peach, pear, orange, grapefruit and lychee, it can liven up a simple vodka lemonade or sweeten whiskey on the rocks. Enthusiasts also enjoy it on its own, or over ice.

“I like it because it has a really light floral flavor,” said Brittny Gudmunson, a bartender at Volstead Act. “It’s not like you’re eating potpourri. It’s not that overpowering floral flavor. To me, it’s like drinking white grape juice. It has a crispness which is a great addition to a lot of drinks.”

St. Germain enhances all kinds of cocktails – from a splash in a glass of sparkling or dry white wine to more complicated concoctions, like the Stormy Morning at Volstead Act or the Sgroppino at Italia Trattoria in Spokane’s Browne’s Addition.

Co-owner Bethe Bowman uses St. Germain instead of vodka in the Italian cocktail made with prosecco and lemon sorbet. It’s a perfect palate-cleanser, apéritif or dessert.

“When you stir it, it gets all frothy and milky on top,” Bowman said. “It’s delicious. It’s light and refreshing.”

In warmer weather, she likes to add a half of an ounce of St. Germain to a mojito or a full ounce to a glass of sangria. She also makes a cocktail with fresh strawberry purée and St. Germain called Strawberry Fields Forever.

Not only does St. Germain taste good, Bowman said, it looks good. “It’s like one of the sexiest bottles I’ve ever seen,” she said. “You want that on your shelf.”

St. Germain debuted in 2007, quickly becoming a must-have cocktail menu item.

Kahlani Badeaux, a bartender at Blind Buck in downtown Spokane, tried it for the first time during the bar’s soft launch in July.

“It was the first time I’d seen it,” she said. “I had heard about it, and I saw that they had it and I wanted to try it. It’s from a flower, which I think is really neat.”

St. Germain is made from fresh flowers, which are reportedly hand-picked during a four- to-six-week period in spring in the foothills of the Alps. Then, they’re pedaled, as in bicycled, to a collection point, where the blooms are immediately processed.

“Most people haven’t had that flavor,” said Jay Denney, food and beverage manager at Masselow’s Restaurant and Lounge at Northern Quest Resort and Casino in Airway Heights.

The bar began serving St. Germain in its Summer Rye cocktail in May. “All of a sudden, it’s taken off,” said Denney, noting the bar actually ran out of St. Germain for nearly a week in mid-November. “It’s sold like crazy.”

Kristal Spies, a bartender at Masselow’s, tried St. Germain for the first time in mid-October. “It’s probably my new favorite,” she said. “I have people smell it. If I just have them smell it, they’re usually sold.”

St. Jameson

From Blind Buck, downtown Spokane

3/4 ounce St. Germain

3/4 ounce Jameson

Pour equal parts into a whiskey glass over ice.

St. Greyhound

From Blind Buck, downtown Spokane

1 ounce St. Germain

1/2 ounce vodka

3 ounces grapefruit juice

Splash of Sambuca

Pour the first three ingredients into a Collins glass with ice and stir well. Top with a splash of Sambuca.

French 75

From Blind Buck, downtown Spokane

1/2 ounce St. Germain

1/2 ounce gin

3 ounces Champagne or sparkling wine

Shake the gin and St. Germain in a shaker with ice. Pour into a Champagne coupe. Top with sparkling wine.

St. 75

From Volstead Act, downtown Spokane

3/4ounce fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice

1 ounce St. Germain

Splash of sparkling wine (Volstead Act recommends Piper Heidsieck Brut)

Shake the juice and St. Germain in a shaker with ice. Pour into fluted glass. Top with sparkling wine.

Stormy Morning

From Volstead Act, downtown Spokane

1 ounce Crème de Violette

1 ounce St. Germain

1 ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice

Splash of sparkling wine (Volstead Act recommends Piper Heidsieck Brut)

Lemon twist, for garnish

Shake all ingredients except the sparkling wine in a shaker. Pour over ice in a Collins glass. Top with sparkling wine. Serve with a lemon twist for garnish.

Summer Rye

From Masselow’s Restaurant and Lounge at Northern Quest Resort and Casino, Airway Heights

2 ounces rye whiskey (Masselow’s uses Pendleton 1910)

1/2 ounce St. Germain

1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/4 ounce simple syrup

1 1/2 ounces freshly squeezed apple juice

1 ounce Champagne or sparkling wine

3 apple cubes, on a toothpick

Shake first five ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Strain into 12-ounce tumbler filled with crushed ice. Top with sparkling wine. Garnish with apple cubes.


From Boots Bakery and Lounge, downtown Spokane

1 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice

1 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice

2 ounces freshly squeezed grapefruit juice

1 1/2 ounces vodka

1/2 ounce St. Germain

Combine all ingredients in a tall tumbler over ice.


From Italia Trattoria, in Browne’s Addition

1 scoop lemon sorbet

1 ounce St. Germain

6 ounces prosecco

1 lemon twist, for garnish

Place sorbet at the bottom of a stemless martini glass. Add the other two ingredients and stir until frothy.


From Italia Trattoria, in Browne’s Addition

2 ounces Cocchi Americano

1/2 ounce St. Germain

1/2 ounce limoncello (Italia Trattoria uses Costa del Sole.)

1 lemon twist, for garnish

Combine all ingredients in a stemless martini glass with ice.

Note: For a pink hue and light pomegranate flavor for Valentine’s Day, add 1 ounce of PAMA pomegranate liqueur.

Strawberry Fields Forever

From Italia Trattoria, in Browne’s Addition

2 ounces Lillet

1/2 ounce St. Germain

1/2 ounce fresh strawberry purée

Splash of club soda

Combine first three ingredients in a cocktail glass over ice, adding a touch of club soda before serving.


From Italia Trattoria, Spokane’s Browne’s Addition

6 ounces rosé

1 ounce St. Germain

Assorted pieces of fresh fruit and berries, such as peaches, apricots and strawberries

Sprig of lavender or mint, for garnish

Combine first three ingredients, serving in a cocktail glass over ice with a garnish.

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