April showers; May flowers. Blah, blah, blah.
We refuse to wait another month: We have one type of flower on our minds—now.
Over the last few years, elderflower, whether flavoring liqueurs, syrups or mixers, has gone from a niche bartender obsession to a near-indispensable cocktail fixture. And, as you would expect, there has been a corresponding boom in new elderflower liqueurs and flavored waters, each with its own distinctive attributes. Get acquainted with these tiny but powerful white flowers from western Europe, because they’re in full bloom and they’re here to stay.
THE TREND-SETTER: ST-GERMAIN, $35
On the market only since 2007, this elderflower liqueur rose to ubiquity in a flash—so much so that it’s been dubbed “bartender’s ketchup.” That means, like the common tomato condiment, St-Germain has its ardent fans and its committed detractors. The aromatic and flowery liqueur can complement just about every spirit, mixing well in cocktails based on everything from gin and tequila to rye whiskey. To really show off its depth without distractions, add a splash to a glass of crisp white wine or Champagne.
THE TIPSY RELATIVE: THE BITTER TRUTH ELDERFLOWER LIQUEUR, $36
A slightly boozier cousin to St-Germain, this 44-proof liqueur was released in 2012 and has many of the same characteristics: It has a rigid enough backbone to stand up to strong spirits and flavorful ingredients when mixed in cocktails. But with layers of floral and fruity flavors, including quince and white grape, it’s also smooth enough to sip on its own.
THE HIPPIE NEIGHBOR: THATCHER’S ELDERFLOWER LIQUEUR, $23
Thatcher’s is a small-batch organic liqueur made in Michigan. It’s a lower 15-percent alcohol, but don’t scoff: What it lacks in firepower, it makes up for with its light, floral aroma. No other flavorings are used, so Thatcher’s is about as close as you can get to pure bottled elderflower blossoms. And while it would likely drown in a very spirit-heavy cocktail, Thatcher’s is a lively addition to a Gin and Tonic or Tom Collins.