Recently I've been spatially challenged by the plethora of beautiful bottles on my bar, each with only a smidgen missing. My goal this week was to make some room and use some of these space savers in a more practical and tasty manner. I've baked Chambord into cakes, made Midori into sorbet and mixed up more than a few drinks. And my two bottles of elderflower mixers set me to taste-testing as well as seeking a suitable cool weather sip for them. But first, I needed to run a contest: Ballymaloe Cookery School's Cordial vs. St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur.
The undeniably fabulous Parisian-style bottle of St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur is a must have on any bar. Having a fondness for the nectar of these flowers I could not pass up the chance to purchase a bottle of homemade from Ireland's dreamy Ballymaloe Cookery school.
The equally impressive co-owner, Rachel Allen, the only Irish food celeb I currently know, promised me the bottle would make it home safely without refrigeration and be worth the trouble. So here I found myself staring at two completely different bottles both containing the goods of the elderflower, one a cordial without alcohol, the other a 20 proof liqueur. A side-by-side pour showed the Ballymaloe cordial to be thick like molasses and much clearer in color than the golden tinged St. Germain, whose body was much less viscous.
Both aromas are sweet and citrusy, and of course the St. Germain carried a hint of alcohol. I've long loved the St. Germain in a glass of bubbly, or mixed into a gin and tonic but typically I only sip this in the summer. Not wanting to stare at both of these bottles until spring I decided to see how they'd work in some fall favorites. Both the cordial and the liqueur are delicious, elegant ,and complex with layers of floral and citrus aromas. The only question for your cocktail would be if you wanted a fuller bodied sip use homemade and if you are looking for your drink to have a lighter body with a wee bit more alcohol reach for the St. Germain.
Either way my week of play resulted in many pours perfect to host the elderflower in both fall and winter, including this take on the classic Old-Fashioned.
What's taking up space in your bar? Let me know and I'll work on some delicious ways for you to use it up.
Traditional Elder-Fashioned Cocktail
Makes 1 drink
bourbon or straight rye whiskey
Orange peel, for garnish
In an old- fashioned glass (or other squat glass), stir ingredients.
Top with an orange twist.
• For more fabulous cocktail ideas for your bottle of St. Germain you can head to St. Germain's website
Maureen C. Petrosky writes what she knows, food, booze and parties. Author of The Wine Club, she appears regularly on The TODAY show to share her vices (and advice) with the world. For more info check out www.maureenpetrosky.com or follow her on Twitter @maureenpetrosky.
(Images: Maureen Petrosky)