Cocktail & Other Recipes By Spirit Other Cocktails

The 10 Best Cocktails to Make with St-Germain

You’ve made a St-Germain Spritz. Now what?

Illustration of St Germain with cocktails surrounding the bottle / Laura Sant

Although it has become almost synonymous with elderflower liqueur, St-Germain has a relatively short history when considered in the pantheon of French liqueurs like Chartreuse and Benedictine.

In the early 2000s, Robert J. Cooper, an heir of Charles Jacquin et Cie, Inc., a spirits and cordial producer in Philadelphia, approached his father with the idea of launching an elderflower liqueur like the ones he had tried at cocktail bars in London. By Cooper’s own account, his father told him, “I’ll hire you back in a year when you fail.” The young entrepreneur struck out on his own in 2007 and launched St-Germain, its name and Art Deco bottle inspired by the Paris neighborhood of St-Germain-des-Prés, which was popular among writers and artists during the Belle Époque era.

A savvy businessman, Cooper worked with bartenders to develop a liqueur that could easily be mixed into cocktails, and St-Germain’s launch fortuitously coincided with the craft cocktail revival, when many bartenders sought to experiment with new ingredients. By 2008, the product was ubiquitous in bars around the country. Cooper sold St-Germain to Bacardi Ltd. for an undisclosed sum in 2012, though he passed away in 2016 at the age of 39. Although many imitators have entered the market since St-Germain’s splashy debut, the brand remains arguably the most popular example of elderflower liqueur. 

A sweet floral liqueur, St-Germain is said to be made with elderflower petals that are harvested in the Savoie region of France and hand-picked during a three- to four-week period in the springtime when they’re at their peak aroma and flavor. Its light-golden hue comes from elderflower pollen, and although the liqueur is sweetened, it eschews artificial flavoring or coloring. Each bottle is labeled with the number of petals that were used to make the liqueur. 

At 20% ABV, St-Germain can be sipped on its own, ideally chilled, as an aperitif. It can also be enjoyed in the St-Germain Cocktail, sometimes called the St-Germain Spritz, which simply tops the liqueur with dry white wine or Champagne, club soda, and a lemon twist. 

Because it’s relatively sweet, St-Germain often pulls double duty in cocktails, imparting both sweetness and a distinct floral and honeysuckle flavor profile. Bartenders may swap out simple syrup for St-Germain, or split the sweetener between the two. While St-Germain’s floral flavor makes it a natural match for gin’s botanicals, it’s versatile enough to work with a range of spirits and serves.

Here are 10 of the best cocktails to make with a bottle of St-Germain.

  • Hugo Spritz

    Hugo Spritz / Tim Nusog

    This spritz, which comes from Northern Italy, is traditionally made with an elderflower cordial called acqua santa, muddled mint, prosecco, and soda water. Since fresh elderflower can be difficult to source in the United States, St-Germain makes a great substitute for the acqua santa.

    Get the recipe.

  • Irish Maid

    Irish Maid cocktail / Tim Nusog

    The Maid family of drinks was born with the Kentucky Maid, a refreshing combination of bourbon, mint, cucumber, lime juice, and simple syrup that bartender Sam Ross created at New York City bar Milk & Honey in 2005. Spinoffs include the slightly floral Irish Maid, which exchanges bourbon for Irish whiskey, swaps the lime juice for lemon juice, omits the mint, and splits the sweetener between simple syrup and St-Germain. 

    Get the recipe.

  • Fleur de Paradis

    Fleur de Paradis cocktail / Tim Nusog

    The soft, earthy profile of Plymouth gin is a perfect match for St-Germain in this lovely sparkling wine cocktail from New York City bartender Kenta Goto. The bubbly and citrusy drink also calls for grapefruit and lemon juices, simple syrup, orange bitters, and Champagne. 

    Get the recipe.

  • Colletti Royale

    Colletti Royale cocktail / Tim Nusog

    This spritzy Margarita variation comes from New York City bar pro Julie Reiner. She uses St-Germain to sweeten a combination of reposado tequila, Cointreau, blood orange and lime juices, and orange bitters, which she then tops with rosé Champagne.

    Get the recipe.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • Kew Garden

    Kew Garden cocktail / Tim Nusog

    Legendary bartender Jim Meehan developed what he calls a “floral, savory Mojito variation” in 2010, swapping some of the usual sugar for St-Germain. The name is a nod to Banks 5-Island rum, which itself is named for a British botanist who was an advisor for the Royal Botanical Garden, Kew. 

    Get the recipe.

  • Spring’s First Bloom

    Spring's First Bloom cocktail / Tim Nusog

    St-Germain is just one of several garden-leaning ingredients that bar veteran Charlotte Voisey employs in this floral Gin Sour. The drink also calls for cucumber-forward Hendrick’s gin, a lemongrass-infused simple syrup, lemon juice, lavender bitters, and an egg white. 

    Get the recipe.

  • Whatamelon

    Whatamelon cocktail / Tim Nusog

    For this ultra-refreshing drink, San Francisco bar veteran  H. Joseph Ehrmann sweetens a mixture of cucumber vodka, watermelon and lime juices, and muddled mint with St-Germain and agave nectar. An optional float of white wine adds crispness.  

    Get the recipe.

  • Ruby

    Ruby cocktail / Tim Nusog

    This “fruit-centric drink” from Las Vegas bartender Tony Abou-Ganim mixes vodka, Aperol, lemon and ruby red grapefruit juices, and an egg white. St-Germain serves as a sweetener and also contributes its floral, honeyed profile to the drink. 

    Get the recipe.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • Summer Rye

    Summer Rye cocktail / Tim Nusog

    Although it’s often paired with gin and vodka, St-Germain can be equally complementary to darker spirits, as in this fruity whiskey drink from bartender Willy Shine. He splits the sweetener between simple syrup and St-Germain in a combination of rye whiskey, fresh Fuji apple juice, lemon juice, and Champagne.

    Get the recipe.

  • Boat House Punch

    Boat House Punch / Tim Nusog 

    This big-batch drink from Reiner relies on a lemon oleo saccharum for big citrus flavor, then adds gin, Aperol, St-Germain, a bevy of fruit juices, and sparkling rosé. The resulting punch, which originally appeared in The Craft Cocktail Party: Craft Drinks for Every Occasion, is a crowd-pleaser that’s also balanced and delicious.

    Get the recipe.