By Carey Jones and John D. McCarthy
Updated March 13, 2018
Credit: Carey Jones

Sweet and elderflowery and in an oh-so-elegant bottle, St-Germain took the cocktail world by storm a few years ago. Think of it as liquid MSG: Just a touch can really make a drink pop. It can add an elusive, “What’s that something extra?”, and separate an everyday cocktail from something pro. But once you buy an entire bottle, what do you do with it? One thing to remember when working with St-Germain: It has gentle elderflower flavor, but it’s also very sweet so it can replace simple syrup, honey, maple or any other sweetener, as it does in these three recipes.

Easy: St-Germain Sparkler

Credit: Carey Jones

Apple is a natural pairing with St-Germain’s floral sweetness. Stick with those flavors plus club soda for a super-refreshing, low-octane brunch drink or spring sipper. Or add a splash of vodka, white rum or—our personal favorite—gin. Either way, it comes together in seconds, once you’ve got your jigger in hand.

Instructions: Pour one ounce of St-Germain into a wine glass or Champagne flute. Add four ounces of pure apple juice, like Martinelli’s. (If you’re looking for a stronger drink, add an ounce of any clear spirit—vodka to let the elderflower flavor shine; white rum for a little more body; gin to add something interesting and herbal.) Top with club soda and garnish with an apple slice.

Intermediate: The Cucumber Cooler

Credit: Carey Jones

Light drinks don’t necessarily have to be sweet or fruity, as this cucumber-mint cocktail proves. Vodka and lime form the backbone, while the St-Germain adds an intriguing but unintrusive floral element.

Instructions: In a cocktail shaker, muddle three cucumber slices. Add five to eight fresh mint leaves, an ounce of lime juice, an ounce of St-Germain and an ounce and a half of vodka. Add ice, shake like crazy, and strain into a tall glass over fresh ice. Add a splash (about an ounce) of club soda on top. Garnish with more cucumber and mint.

Advanced: Elderflower Thistle

Credit: Carey Jones

The Rusty Nail is a classic stirred Scotch cocktail with Drambuie, which has a bit of a heathery, honey flavor. Here, we’re swapping in St-Germain, with a comparable sweet elderflower character. The result is a stiff, plenty Scotch-y drink with a gentle floral note.

Instructions: In a mixing glass, stir 2 ounces of Scotch, an ounce of St. Germain and a dash of Angostura bitters over ice until well-combined. (Blended Scotch, like Famous Grouse, works just fine here. But if you want to use the fancy single malt stuff, we’re not gonna stop ya.) Strain it over fresh ice, and garnish with two expressed lemon peels. What does that mean? Get a good, solid peel of lemon zest (using a normal peeler or paring knife), and give it a big twist and squeeze over the drink—spraying all of those fragrant lemon oils on top.

Follow writer and cocktailian Carey Jones on Twitter @careyjones and NYC mixologist John McCarthy at @johnnydmac, and share your own favorite cocktails using #FWx @foodandwine.