Don’t expect this to get all church-y. That’s not my style. Although, I was sent off to college as a freshman with one ginormous volume of the Catechism of The Catholic Church by my father who we’ll affectionately call, Crazy Bob. He told me I could use it to remind my friends when they are behaving badly. Remind them of what? That I have a lunatic in the family? No thanks, Crazy Bob. My mother told me to just take it and hide it in my closet and that we would deal with it later (cue the dormitory dumpster). I digress.
I’m a wine lover. Ask anyone who knows me. We are tight. We’re like PB & J or Abbott and Costello or Brangelina or something like that. I have to admit – wait – should I call this a confession? I’ve stepped outside our relationship. Approximately one year ago, I purchased a thank you gift with a friend for another friend who was kind enough to drive our drunk arses home on New Year’s Eve. When I asked what we should get this kind, impromptu, designated driver I was told, “St. Germain.”
“What the $*!# is St. Germain?” I asked.
“I don’t know, but it’s delicious.”
“What do you do with it?”
“I don’t know. I think she mixes it with champagne. You know K. She just plays around and mixes it up and it comes out fabulous.”
I found a liquor store that carried it, conveniently 100 feet from my workplace at the time. When I reached the register I was told, “I love this! It’s delicious!”
“Thanks, my friend and I are buying it for another friend as a thank you gift.” The clerk proceeded to wax poetic about all the things she does with St. Germain. So versatile, this Saint – what can I say? I’m skeptical of spirits, but I was intrigued had to find out for myself.
One week later, we were out celebrating another friend’s birthday at a local restaurant called Edibles. It has a great cocktail menu, delicious food which changes up seasonally, and it’s located in the arts area (www.ediblesrochester.com). I decided to try a St. Germain cocktail called Sex and the City. I tried it…um…well…like 5 or 6 times. I mean, I had to be sure that I was committed to it and that it was not just a fling. Since that fated evening, St. Germain holds a permanent place on the bar and is replaced quite often, most likely due to its incorporation into wine cocktails. So essentially, Lady Sensory gets a free pass to have a threesome, since her new beau, St. Germain, gets along so well with her main squeeze, wine. This replacement is also good thing since St. Germain is an artisanal liqueur made from fresh ingredients and it is recommended that it be consumed within six months. It’s a win-win for all involved. I know what you’re thinking. What kind of crackpot celebrates a one-year anniversary of her love affair with a liqueur? That’s ridiculous. Well, yoo-hoo! It’s this lady right here.
If you haven’t tried what could be described as the “it” liqueur of the year, you should know that it’s made in France in small batches out of elderflowers. On the St. Germain website (http://www.stgermain.fr/), they will tell you all about the nice man who plucks the elderflowers and how he rides his bicycle from the Alps to the market. The bottle is gorgeous and the label features a tiny silhouette of a man on a bicycle (hey, I’m a marketing person/creative type and thus, a sucker for quality packaging). I want to have a local glass artist melt this bottle down and make a cheese board or a vase out of it.
You will get mixed descriptions of St. Germain’s flavor if you research it, so I will describe it as: honeyed, floral, lychee (they describe that note as passionfruit); I get an indiscernible citrus (maybe lemon, maybe tangerine, but more citrus-floral like you’re standing under the trees in a citrus grove), and pear. It’s so heavenly I’d like to put it into a perfume atomizer spray myself all over. St. Germain’s tasting notes are basically a melange of the best New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc aromas you can ever imagine, concentrated, and sweetened into one liqueur – but it actually has less sugar than most other liqueurs. There are many recipes on the website but my go-tos don’t appear to be listed anymore. One is the St. Germain Cocktail (pretty close to what they now call the Hummingbird) and then there is a hot beverage that has something to do with apple brandy that we’ll just call French Apple Lady for now since I can’t seem to find it, and that sounds pretty darn close:
Lady Sensory’s St. Germain Cocktail:
You can serve this on ice in a tall Collins glass or chill and serve ‘up’ in a martini or goblet.
2 parts New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc (my number 1 choice is always Kim Crawford, but I’ve used Brancott and another delicious one called Arona as well)
1 1/2 parts St. Germain
2 parts sparkling water (I prefer this to Club Soda because there is less sodium but if that’s what you have at home, then go with it.)
1 lemon twist (or if you’re culinary-knife-skill challenged, a slim lemon slice will do. And I’m not judging – I have yet to master one of those super-pretty lemon twists you get in fancy cocktail lounges that charge you $13 for this drink that you will now be able to make at home.)
Put the wine in before St. Germain. St. Germain is heavier than wine. Mix well, top with fizz, stir a little. Get crazy. Make babushka doll ice cubes and put a flamingo in it like I did. Pose that drink next to your dinner and your fancy pot. Work it!
Now for the French Apple Lady. This is a great hot cocktail that lends itself to outdoor winter functions like ice skating, tailgating, snowshoeing, cleaning the snow off your car but not driving because you are now drinking, skiing, shoveling, or playing softball in the snow. Yes. Don’t look at me like that. People actually do that last one. In fact, that’s where French Apple Lady made her debut last year; you can even multiply the recipe and put it in an air pot and fuel the masses with French Apple Lady-goodness. Just figure out where you want to go in the cold, and you let Ms. French Apple Lady warm you up and keep you company:
French Apple Lady:
(I’ve adjusted the original recipe because I felt it had too much brandy and it overpowered everything else, serve in a clear glass mug if you have them but if you’re outside in a public place you are going to want to hide that booze of yours in a travel mug or styrofoam cup.)
1 part Apple Brandy (Applejack or Calvados, if you’re fancy)
1 part St. Germain
1 teaspoon honey
Top with hot water
Mix & garnish with a cloved-lemon wedge and a cinnamon stick (slice a lemon into wedges and insert cloves along the pith). People will think you’re related to Martha Stewart…or just plain nuts.
St. Germain can be found at most liquor stores now for anywhere from $28.99 up to $35. Drink up, kids. It’s about time you worshipped a new Saint as well.