April showers bring May flowers- hopefully lots of tiny, white, starry elderflowers! Elderflower cocktails are a staple on bar menus thanks in part to St-Germain. Introduced in 2007, this elderflower liqueur, known for its bright, fragrant, floral taste, quickly rose to fame and positioned it as the “elder statesman”, the best (and only) in its class. It became one of the most recognizable bottles on the top shelf (you know the one that looks like oversized, exquisite perfume accidentally placed with the liqueur).
More recently, the obsession for all things elderflower has grown from a small niche of crafty mixologists to a larger, more mainstream audience, sparking the entry of many new and creative players. A full range of products, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, are appearing on shelves once again placing drinks with a hint of elderflower front and center. Whether as a flavored liqueur, a syrup, or a water, elderflower is in full bloom and ready to make some of the best cocktails of the Spring!
Here are 7 of my Elderflower Cocktail Picks for Spring
The Grandaddy: St-Germain, $35, 20% ABV
The liqueur is still made in the same artisanal manner. Flowers are gathered from the hillsides in the French Alps during a short four- to-six-week period in spring then biked (as in on a bike) to a collection depot where they are immediately macerated to preserve the fresh flavors of the bloom. The beauty is in its aromatic and floral flavors which compliment a wide variety of spirits from light to dark, and also in its simplicity is as an addition to a glass of white wine or Champagne.
St-Germain offers a wide variety of delicious recipes for cocktails that you can peruse by clicking ST-GERMAIN
My personal favorite is Pastinaca, a delicious blend of sweet and sour finished with just a hint of heat!
The Newcomers: The Bitter Truth Elderflower Liqueur, $36, 22%ABV
While elderflower is still the star of the show, this liqueur offers a spicer aroma of honey and fruity notes of quince and grape and tastes like “summer in a bottle.” The Bitter Truth is a bit more “spicy” and can stand up as a mixer or as a cordial for sipping and savoring.
Thatcher’s Elderflower Liqueur, $23, 15%ABV
USDA certified organic and proudly made in Temperance, Michigan, Thatcher’s is delicate, light, floral, and fresh which compliments light spirits (gin, vodka), white wine, or Champagne. If The Bitter Truth is a sip of summer, Thatcher’s is a sip of crisp, fresh spring! It’s almost like having freshly bottled blooms that you can add to your drink. For a quick cocktail, how about this:
- 1 oz vodka (your favorite brand, but I prefer Tito’s)
- 1 oz grapefruit juice (freshly squeezed is best)
- 1 oz dry crisp wine (a nice sauvignon blanc or even a rose would be nice)
- 1/2 – 1 oz elderflower liqueur
Bols Elderflower Liqueur, $18, 17%ABV
While Thatcher’s is lighter in flavor, Bols is lighter on the wallet, coming in slightly less in price than the others. Still complete with the floral flavor, this liqueur tends to finish off with a hint of citrus. It’s sweetness makes it better as a mixer where a balance might work best.
The Waters: Fever-Tree Elderflower Tonic water, $7 for 4-6.8oz bottles
My two favorite things, tonic water and elderflower, finally got married! The delicate and sweet flavor of the elderflower is a wonderful balance to the bitter taste of the quinine. No artificial sweeteners here…only pure cane sugar and spring water. Fever-Tree is committed to providing the best source ingredients for all their products including this one. Whether you drink this as a sophisticated soda or mix it with your favorite gin, vodka, or tequila, Fever-Tree will leave a twinkle in your eye and on your tongue. It can be tricky to find locally, so I usually rely on Amazon…you can CLICK HERE to check out their offerings.
Belvoir Fruit Farms Elderflower Presse, $56 for 12-750ml bottles
Another marriage…this time elderflower marries lemonade; wow! Freshly picked elderflowers, fresh lemon juice and spring water are blended together to create this refreshing and crisp beverage again with no artificial flavors, colors, or sweeteners. Made it the UK, Belvoir is a bit harder to find, but if you’re close to a World Market, pop in as they often carry this brand, or CLICK HERE to check it out on Amazon.
The Tonic Syrup: Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. Elderflower Tonic Syrup, $16, 7oz.
For this one, a little goes a long way! Elderberry, which grows wild in Kentucky, is mixed with organic dried elderflowers to produce this concentrated “down South” version. Using only .75oz, this tonic provides versatility to a wide range of spirits without the addition of alcohol. I’m thinking this might be a great addition to warm drinks as well…a.k.a the Hot Toddy…I’ll get back to you on that!
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