Robert J. Cooper, the creator of St-Germain, the elderflower liqueur so ubiquitous that it eventually became known as “bartender’s ketchup,” has died at the age of 39. The cause of his death is so far unknown.
Cooper, whose family owns Charles Jacquin et Cie, a Philadelphia-based spirits distiller and producer founded in 1884, left his family business to pursue the creation of St-Germain, an idea dismissed by his father, Norton J. Cooper.
In 2007, Cooper launched the elderflower liqueur, similar to ones he had seen in London, and by 2008, bartenders across the country considered it a staple of their repertoire. In addition launching his own spirits brand, the Cooper Spirits Co., Cooper was known for hosting bartender exchange programs between New York City and San Francisco, as well as the annual Jazz Age lawn party on New York City’s Governor’s Island.
In 2012, Cooper sold St-Germain to Bacardi, yielding him “more than I expected to see in a lifetime.” The remaining brands within the Cooper Spirit Co. Hochstadter's Vatted Straight Rye Whiskey, Lock Stock & Barrel, another rye whiskey; Crème Yvette, a berry fruit liqueur; and Ilegal Mezcal, an artisanal Mexican mezcal for which Cooper Spirit Co is the sole U.S. importer.