St Germain is an elderflower liqueur that returns us to a simpler, more tranquil age. One where everything from the décor to the drink in your hand is nothing short of fabulous. In other words, a perfect scenario for the Social Bitches.
Imagine … France circa 1920, an art deco vibe, and your good self not possessing a care in the world. Now distil that thought into liquid form, with notes of peach, pear and honeysuckle lovingly contained in one super stylish bottle.
That’s the thinking behind St Germain’s sophisticated taste. Not only is it highly amusing with a splash of champagne [ or was that a bottle?? ], it can be combined with any spirit to create something unique.
So along with culinary partner in crime Kerry Teakle of Edinburgh Foody, and our cousin Benson Wilson [ an incredible opera singer btw, boast, boast ], we were only too happy to join a St Germain masterclass.
Great minds drink alike …
Hosted by brand ambassador, Voodoo Rooms General Manager, and award-winning mixologist Rosie Paterson, the first drink of many is in hand just seconds after our arrival.
And, what better place to start than with a signature serve – the St Germain Spritz. A liberal dash of the star ingredient, followed by equal parts bubbles and soda water. Poured over ice, and topped with a twist of lemon zest.
Our first sip is immediately followed by a resounding “Rosie! Ooh la la!!”
Although we’re utterly refreshed by drink’s end, we’re soon insisting upon a second glass. But while imbibing is oh so easy, creating this sophisticated liqueur is a lot more involved.
Conceived by third-generation distiller Rob Cooper in 2002, it took another five years to perfect, and involved the input of some of the world’s most influential bartenders.
Made with the fresh elderflowers that grow wild along the walkways of Europe, each year they’re handpicked in the final fortnight of spring. They’re then soaked on site, before being transported to the North of France.
Each bottle boasts close to a thousand of these golden blossoms, which is why there’s no need for artificial colouring. It also means five people must pick the aforementioned blossoms for an entire day, just to create that one bottle.
Still, as Rosie announces it’s time for the first of three cheeky cocktails, we agree it’s well worth everyone’s intense efforts …
Bombay Sapphire Collins
While we’re already feeling the effects of alcohol, this is where the audience participation kicks in. Oops. The boys vote, and literally push Kerry forward to create the first cocktail.
Mix [ in a cocktail shaker, with ice ]:
50 ml Bombay Sapphire
12.5 mil St Germain
20 ml of lemon juice
Then all that’s required is a tall glass, ice and a splash of soda. The end result is stunning, adding yet another layer of complexity to our favourite spirit.
St Germain Martini Twist
Next it’s Derek’s turn to demonstrate he’s not just self-medicating at the Voodoo Rooms’ expense. Hmmm that’s awkward …
But thanks to an expert demo from Rosie, and her incredible patience at being asked to explain this simple recipe three more times, the second cocktail is also a success.
50 ml Grey Goose
50ml Martini Vermouth
10 ml St Germain
Once shaken, you simply strain into a martini glass.
Admittedly, Derek had the strainer upside down initially [ yep, most definitely drunk ], but soon overcomes this small hurdle, and creates the perfect martini.
The only decision left to make: a lemon zest twist or two olives? We recommend the latter. Not only is it utterly delicious, offering the perfect balance of sweet and salty, it also looks much, much cooler.
By now, none of Rosie’s master class students even resemble sober, but there is still more to drink, umm, we mean learn. So while Derek and Kerry empty glasses [ wink, wink ], Isaac and Benson embark upon the Daiquiri.
50ml White Rum [ not dark rum people, it’s too spicy ]
25 ml fresh lime juice
10ml Sugar syrup
12.5 St Germain
Once strained into a coupe glass [ champagne saucer ], you’re pretty much done.
“No garnish required,” Rosie explains. “It’s already perfect.”
And indeed, she has not oversold it. After a quick show of drunken hands, it’s decided the Parisian Daiquiri is our favourite. Wonderfully creamy, yet oh so delicate in taste.
Benson – an accomplished baritone, boast, boast – breaks into song, and we imagine a slow-motion montage of us all drinking more cocktails, laughing at our urbane observations, and looking incredibly sophisticated.
And while the truth might well be another story, there’s no denying that St Germain truly has a role to play in every type of cocktail imaginable.
Our advice: book your own master class, and soon.
Reviewed May 2019
Rosie Paterson, Brand Ambassador
The Voodoo Rooms
19a West Register Street
0131 556 7060