Happy Hour at Home: Simplest Gin and St. Germain Cocktail
The first time I had St. Germain was on a renegade vacation. We were due to stay in our vintage-y Napa motor lodge another night, but at the last moment we decided to check out. We threw our bags in the car, and drove on a steep, winding rode through dense wooks to Glen Ellen. There, we ate a greasy spoon breakfast, a prelude to the main event: I spied M.F.K. Fisher’s Last House from across a two-lane highway and at the little memorial to her in town, had my picture snapped next to a portrait of her at a typewriter. My ultimate fan girl moment.
Then we drove on to Sonoma, where the midday sun was beating down hot in the town square. Down a side street, I fell in love with a charming, busting airy restaurant, sat at the bar and ordered a drink. It contained St. Germain, a delicate elderflower liqueur, poured from the most glamorously tall, art deco bottle. There was also some gin, a cucumber spear, and maybe a splash of Lillet or champagne, though the specifics are hazy now. I just remember being so happy there, surrounded by dapper, quick-footed waiters, air-conditioning, the spirit of adventure that came from casting our plans to the wind, and, oh, the smell of cheese.
This is my bare bones attempt to recreate what I think is one of the most cool, crisp, refreshing and ladylike of summer cocktails. Drink this in your garden, when the gals come over to knock croquet balls in their spectator heels and talk about the rakish men they adore. I didn’t really drink this garnished with edible flowers as illustrated in the picture, though wouldn’t that be grand?
I find the St. Germain quite powerful and don’t like to feel like I’m drinking a bouquet. For that reason, I let the gin play star, but experiment with your own proportions; you may like it better with more elderflower liqueur.
Simplest Gin and St. Germain Cocktail
In a cocktail shaker, mix 3 parts gin with 1 part St Germain. Fill a glass with ice and pour cocktail over. Add club soda or seltzer and garnish with a squeeze of lemon.
Mix it up:
- Add 1 part (or more) Lillet.
- Mix with sparkling wine instead of club soda.
- Garnish with edible flowers, cucumber, or mint.
- Skip the gin; mix 1 part St Germain with 3 parts sparkling wine.
- Make a twist on the French 75: a St Germain 75