St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur: Everything You Need To Know

Although it's only been on the scene since 2007, St-Germain liqueur has already become a beloved bartender staple and a cultural icon synonymous with the luxe life. A boozy, brilliant elderflower liqueur, each bottle of St-Germain is packed with elderflower blossoms, bringing this often-overlooked flavor to the forefront. According to St-Germain's website, founder Robert J. Cooper envisioned the liqueur as a versatile aperitif and mixer.

Although St-Germain is part of the Bacardi family now, it's still got a boutique, small-batch flair (via Taste Cocktails). Additionally, elderflower flavor got a royal nod thanks to Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's lemon-elderflower wedding cake (via Abelei Flavors). Sophisticated, light, and pleasantly unexpected, St-Germain liqueur is a must-have for any complete home bar or event worth its salt. Plus, you can drink it straight or enjoy it in an array of the best aperitif cocktails and delicious mixers. So, if you haven't hopped on the St-Germain train yet, now is the time to familiarize yourself with this incredible drink.

Enjoy St-Germain as a mixer or straight up

One of St-Germain's key selling points is its versatility. This liqueur walks a good line between being robust and delicate, thanks to its light, flowery, and semi-sweet honeyed flavor (via Wine Magazine). Savvy sippers will pick up on honeysuckle, equatorial fruits, and pear notes, but most people will primarily get sweetness tinged with a mellow honey finish. As such, St-Germain is delicious and served iced cold as an aperitif or as a complimentary pairing to vodka or gin drinks.

As the Nibble notes, St-Germain has some similarities to gewürztraminer, an aromatic white wine grape, thanks to its bold bouquet of lychee flavors, and it makes the perfect foil for any number of different hors de oeuvres. St-Germain also won the 2007 San Francisco World Spirits Competition double gold medal thanks to its unique flavor and endless applications. Straight up, on the rocks, or stirred into your cocktail of choice, it's sophistication in a glass.

As a modifier, St-Germain enhances the flavor of any base liquor

Although you could certainly savor St-Germain straight-up, it's a fantastic modifier that loans depth and deliciousness to any cocktail, extending a fresh floral sweetness to your drink. Per Gentologie, St-Germain enhances the flavor of standard drinks by adding some extra layers of taste. So although you can certainly pop a splash of St-Germain into your vodka, gin, or rum cocktails, it works just as well as a chic addition for champagne or wine.

The secret to St-Germain's success lies in its unique flavor profile. While it definitely has some sweeter notes, the liqueur has got a lot of complexity too. As such, it doesn't just lend a sugary base to your cocktail but a burst of flowered and fruit-froward flavor. As St-Germain itself details it, this liqueur has 50% of the sugar that you'd find in similar liqueurs, making it a smart but not too saccharine addition.

It's a game-changing liqueur occasionally nicknamed the bartender's ketchup

Occasionally cited as the "ketchup of liqueurs," St-Germain is one of the most valuable things to have in your bar arsenal (via Alcohol Professor). Although the elderflower flavor is unique, it's not one-note, and it works with virtually anything. Thanks to St-Germain's robust botanical profile and delicate fruity notes, bartenders can use it to elevate even the most standard drinks. Lending character, charm, and a touch of class, St-Germain is a staple liqueur for bartenders in the know.

According to Difford's Guide, St-Germain is also an intelligent substitute for sugar-drenched syrups that bartenders used to use to spice up or flavor vodka cocktails. Instead of sweet overload, St-Germain provides nuance and complexity. You also don't need too much of it to make your cocktails really shine, making a bottle of this elderflower liqueur both an innovative and cost-effective bartending ace.

The flowers in St-Germain are hand-harvested

Everything about St-Germain is charming, even down to how this liqueur is processed and created. As the brand's website details, every bottle is packed with roughly 1,000 fragrant elderflower blossoms, each of which is hand-harvested by bicycle every May. This process is labor-intensive and yields distinct and slightly different bottles, thanks to the unique composition of flowers in each. As such, every bottle of St-Germain is numbered distinctively.

The fresh blossoms give St-Germain its signature honeysuckle and fruity notes, lending a gorgeous aroma and taste to every bottle. Taste Cocktails writes that St-Germain's harvesters nab these blossoms when they're at their absolute freshest, generally in the early morning, to ensure that the blooms are just opening up. In a world of mass-produced, artificial-tasting alcoholic beverages, St-Germain manages to retain its uniqueness with a systematic and special approach. As a result, you can taste the craft, care, and time put into every bottle.

St-Germain often wins out over stiff competition

There are plenty of other elderflower liqueurs and liquors out there. These days, St-Germain has a lot of competition. Plenty of boutique bottles are popping up across the world, and yet still, the original stands the test of time. Love Bertina's elderflower cordial takes cues from an ancient Roman Empire recipe, plus a touch of ethanol to make it an alcoholic sip. Like St-Germain, you can mix this cordial with virtually any light alcohol or wine to enhance the flavor and give it some extra layers.

Bols has a honey-heavy elderflower liqueur with a lovely botanical bend that works beautifully with summertime cocktails. Despite the competition, St-Germain is the original elderflower liqueur, per Difford's Guide, and still has plenty of panache and name recognition in the fine spirits world. Although Bols and Love Bertina's offerings are good, there's something sophisticated and exceptional about St-Germain that the imitators simply can't seem to mimic entirely.

Founder Robert Cooper invented St-Germain after tasting an elderflower syrup-infused cocktail

According to News 18, St-Germain's founder Rob Cooper fell head over glass in love with an elderflower cocktail and decided to make a liqueur with the same flavor profile. Cooper came from a long line of liqueur producers and was already familiar with Charles Jacques et Cie, thanks to his father. As the story goes, Cooper wandered into a London-area bar in 2001 and tasted a delicious drink fragranced with elderflower liqueur.

Allegedly, that chance brush with elderflower liqueur changed Cooper's perspective dramatically, as he'd never considered elderflower to be a viable cocktail addition before. So Cooper decided to create an elderflower liqueur of his own, and the rest of the story is delicious history. Although today it's almost impossible to imagine a posh bar without a signature bottle of St-Germain, the liqueur is less than 20 years old and was dreamt up in this century. You might even call it a modern classic.

Creating exceptional liqueurs runs in the family

Robert Cooper is the brainchild behind St-Germain, but his family has a long and celebrated history in the liquor biz. As reported by the New York Times, the Cooper family's claim to fame lay with Charles Jacquin et Cie, a Philadelphia liqueur company famous for yummy cordials and interesting liqueurs. Despite St-Germain's current smashing success, Cooper's father was skeptical about infusing elderflowers into a liqueur, and Cooper wound up leaving Charles Jacquin et Cie to set off on his own.

Tragically, Robert Cooper didn't live long enough to enjoy the fruits of his labor, passing away at 39 (via Daily Mail). However, since his death, St-Germain continues to enjoy immense popularity. Cooper will always be known as the youthful liqueur genius whose brilliant idea for elderflower liqueur took him away from his family fortune and straight into the pages of liquor lore. As such, St-Germain carries some of the same mythic qualities as a standalone original with broad appeal. 

St-Germain is gluten-free

Celiacs, rejoice and raise your glass of St-Germain. Information from proves that this beloved liqueur also happens to be totally gluten-free. notes that gluten and wheat-based additives usually hit a liqueur bottle after it has been distilled. Hence, most spirits are naturally celiac-friendly unless added with something else during the mixing part of the process. Still, it's nice to know that people with wheat allergies can enjoy their St-Germain without worrying about adverse reactions.

The official St-Germain website also confirms that the liqueur is gluten-free. So, stir up your St-Germain with some gluten-free mixers are you're ready to go (via Living Freely Gluten Free). People with gluten sensitivities can also mix St-Germain into most gin or vodka-based cocktails. Flavorless vodka is generally naturally gluten-free so that you can imbibe worry-free (via Scientific American). Gin is also a good bet unless it has post-distillation additives (via Beyond Celiac). Plus, St-Germain pairs perfectly with light-colored alcohols like vodka, so it's truly a win-win situation.

St-Germain expertly intertwined itself with the luxe lifestyle

According to Forbes, St-Germain is synonymous with a sophisticated, luxe lifestyle thanks to its litany of epic parties and marketing. Brand ambassadors like Camille Vidal note that St-Germain is more like an experience than a cocktail (via Forbes), and the brand certainly works to promote this chic and exclusive image every chance it gets in VIP events adorned with bottles of St-Germain and plenty of flowers (via People).

A Hotel Life notes St-Germain's legendary parties that echo styles from the 1920s and hint that if you're sipping on a straight St-Germain or a cocktail, you'll feel like you're at one of Jay Gatsby's famous New York City parties. This clever branding, coupled with the drink's natural versatility and taste, cements St-Germain as one of the staple sips of our time and puts those that drink it in an elevated class all of their own.

Rum behemoth Bacardi owns St-Germain

Although St-Germain is a boutique, artisanal liqueur, it has a big boozy daddy in the form of Bacardi. Information from Bacardi's website details that the rum behemoth acquired St-Germain in 2013. PR Newswire notes that St-Germain is in a class of its own, with buzz and excitement surrounding the brand from day one. There's also a compelling argument to be made for St-Germain's meteoritic success in such a short time, plus the artistry and care that defines every single bottle.

Given all of this, it's really no surprise that Bacardi leaped at the opportunity to affiliate itself with St-Germain and cash in on the best of all worlds. The pairing only gets all the more sweeter when you take into account all of the fabulous cocktails that you can concoct with a splash or two of Bacardi and a touch of St-Germain (via Bacardi). It's truly a match made in heaven, and a great reason why liqueur guides rank St-Germain as a floral spirit you should try at least once.

The name is a nod to an artistic Parisian neighborhood

St-Germain stays true to its French roots by getting its namesake from a famous Parisian neighborhood. According to St-Germain's website, the luscious liqueur is named after St-Germain-de-Prés, an eccentric and chic hotbed of artists and writers. Given the brand's fondness for the Roaring 20s and sophisticated, elevated culture in general, the name certainly tracks.

St-Germain's company information also notes that the distinct and dapper bottle design is another homage to the district, echoing the Art Deco movement and giving the drinker a sense that they're consuming something both rare and reminiscent of a golden artistic age. It's true on both counts. While St-Germain is a decidedly modern liqueur, it does have a sense of classiness and old-fashioned allure coupled with an out-of-the-box yet incredibly accessible flavor palate. Sip some St-Germain, and you might find yourself mentally transported to winding Parisian streets full of culture.