St-Germain liqueur is made with elderflower petals collected in France each spring.
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Credit: Carey Jones

Sweet, elderflower-y, and in an oh-so-elegant bottle, St-Germain took the cocktail world by storm when it debuted in 2007. Think of it as the MSG of spirits — just a touch can really make a drink pop. Its elusive, unique flavor separates a simple cocktail from a truly spectacular one. But once you buy an entire bottle, what do you do with it? One thing to remember when working with St-Germain: It has a gentle elderflower note, 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

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Credit: Carey Jones

Apple is a natural pairing with St-Germain's floral sweetness. Stick with these 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

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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

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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 comparably sweet elderflower character. The result is a stiff, plenty Scotch-y drink with a gentle floral note.

Instructions: In a mixing glass, stir two 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), give it a big twist, and squeeze over the drink — spraying all of those fragrant lemon oils on top.