Sad news from the spirits world: Robert J. Cooper, the creator of St-Germain elderflower liqueur, has passed away at the age of 39. First introduced to the market in 2007, the floral liqueur instantly became a bartender favorite. Upon first trying it just a week after St-Germain launched, former F&W editor, Nick Fauchauld, wrote that it “smells like spring and tastes like summer” and that it “is delicate and dry enough to use in all kinds of drinks.”
Cooper was first inspired to make an elderflower liqueur after encountering elderflower syrup cocktails in London. He returned to the States eager to make something that encapsulated the flavors he so loved for his family’s company, Charles Jacquin et Cie, a cordial and liqueur company based out of Philadelphia. But it proved harder than he thought. Distilling elderflowers turned out to be a feat in itself, and his father, Norton J. “Sky” Cooper, was supremely unenthused by the idea. So Cooper struck out on his own, breaking from the family company to create a product whose signature art deco bottle is now a fixture in bars across the country. His father later admitted that he was wrong. “I didn’t realize how good it would be,” he said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.
Cooper didn’t stop at St-Germain. Though it is, by far, his most well-known and beloved legacy, he also revived old school bar ingredients like Crème Yvette, a violet liqueur, and Hochstater’s Slow & Low, a bottled rock sugar and rye whiskey drink.