When I am feeling the vernal season in me, my tastes turn to lighter, more aromatic and herbal libations. I stop buying porters and stouts and seek out hoppy IPAs and most especially, saison ales. And when it comes to cocktails, I retire the ones with whiskey bases and turn to gin.
Last year I went through a period where I became fixated on Vesper Martinis. I made sure to keep a fresh lemon handy from which to shave curled fragrant peels to drop into the gin and Lillet combination. Recently I have been tempted by the popularity of elderflower liqueur and decided to give it a try. My only fear was that it might be too floral for my tastes. However, one reviewer stated its character was more akin to lychee than rose petal, so I boldly picked up a bottle and tried it straight......and they were precisely correct.
St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
There are several elderflower-infused cocktails out there but none quite checked all of my boxes, so I experimented and ended up with my own recipe......a variation of that classic Vesper I mentioned earlier. I call it "Vesper the Elder"......even though it is much younger than the Vesper, LOL. Getting the ratio right was the biggest challenge once I settled on the ingredients, and switching the garnish from lemon to orange just made sense with the elderflower element.
VESPER the ELDER
1 part Lillet
1 part St. Germain elderflower
2 parts gin
garnish with an orange peel
As I've stated in other gin-based drinks, I rarely use
ice and I NEVER shake them. Instead I keep my gin in
the freezer, and many of my mixers, like vermouth and Lillet,
in the refrigerator. This way everything is quite chilled
from the start and requires merely the gentlest of
swirled stirring.....but you do need to stir it since the elderflower
is very heavy and will otherwise just sit on the bottom....as
it deceptively did for me when I thought my pour was sufficient agitation.
It has rapidly become a favorite for me and so I wanted to share the recipe here. If you are unsure about the St. Germain, you can purchase it in a smaller size, and even in those little "airplane bottles" for around $4. This way you can try it and not commit to a $30 purchase that ends up covered in dust.
The drink is somewhat herbal, but not perfumey. It is also a bit sweeter than what I usually prefer, but again, not anywhere near as sweet as most cocktails. It just has a nice "Winter's over but it's still not baking hot Summer" vibe, with the hint of the garden mixed with the refreshment of gin. Let me know if you try it!