april showers bring may flowers

…but what do Mayflowers bring?

Delicious drinks! Ah…just think of how America would have been changed had the Pilgrims arrived at cocktail hour.

Since I swilled my share of cocktails on my trip, I’ve been hankering for more. Sure, in some quarters this is called nascent alcoholism, but I like to call it fun-lovin’ good times. So it was Friday, and I had been playing catch-up all day, and suddenly, a May breeze, scented with spring flowers, called to me. Was it the great outdoors beckoning? No, it was my new sample bottle of St. Germain elderflower liqueur.

Elderflower essence is gorgeous, and, according to the intarwebs, the hot new thing of 2007. The flowery flavor is like nothing I’ve tasted: slightly floral, slightly ripe, dark berryish, maybe currant? Lychee? Rambutan? It marries well with lemon, but needs to be left alone to dominate in a cocktail, methinks. Being a slave to yesterday’s fashion, I bought a bottle of D’Arbo elderflower syrup and a tiny bottle of St. Germain, so I could compare the two. They’re rather similar, actually. St. Germain is a sweet liqueur, not as rounded and full-sweet like the syrup, but the elderflower flavor is the same. You could probably swap out one for the other, if you made some adjustments for the sweetness of the syrup (maybe halving it? But you’d have to make sure the elderflower doesn’t fade).

Research has shown that most people inventing St. Germain cocktails stick with gin and lemon, and play off French 75 variations. Jeffrey Morgenthaler makes a lovely tipple with homemade Pinot Gris syrup that he calls the East of Eden (which I promise to try next time I go to Bel Ami!). Jamie Boudreau does some fantastic, unusual, and brave things I was too scared to try with darker spirits, since I am a weak mixologist, alas. The Cocktail Database has a St. Germain cocktail with no St. Germain in it whatsoever. And last but not least, the trying-too-hard-for-Frenchie-cred English St. Germain website has a few drinks, some of which look horrible.

But I know you’re wondering: what’s so good about her drink? She doesn’t know what the bleep she’s doing! And you would be correct.

Still, it’s not half bad. I’m feeling jubilant that I actually made a drink on the first go that tasted good. It usually takes me, oh, maybe a year or five to make good drinks. But I credit my trip and the delicious cocktails I had to this success. Lo, I discovered the magic of egg whites! If only I knew how to properly shake a cocktail, it would have been even more lovely. I didn’t get the foaminess I wanted; rather more of a froth. Oh well. Always room for improvement.

The May Sacrifice is at once strong, sweet and tart, floral and creamy. It’s a little primal and unripe but with promises of a long, sunny afternoon. Garnish with…o love…one pristine Seascape strawberry blossom. That’s the sacrifice, one of the first May blossoms. Feel decadent and wasteful. Watch the languid floating flower, forever unable to fruit thousands. Drink U.P.!

May Sacrifice

2 oz. gin (I used Bombay Sapphire; you should use Plymouth)
1 oz. St. Germain
1/2 oz lemon juice
one egg white from farm-fresh egg
two shakes of Fee Bros. lemon bitters

Shake over ice. Garnish with strawberry blossom or another pretty, white flower that won’t poison your guests. Some sacrifices are a bit much.

5 thoughts on “april showers bring may flowers

  1. njLady 3 May 2008 / 1:37 pm

    Try assembling the drink first in a shaker without ice when you use egg white. Shake for at least 100 shakes (this is an old bartending trick). Then open the shaker, insert your ice and shake the drink until the outside of the shaker frosts over. It doesn’t matter how you shake, overhand or back and forth, just give it a good whipping up. Trust me, the texture of the drink will be much improved. I just bought a bottle of the St. Germain after using elderflower cordial syrup (non-alcohol soda syrup). I am going to have the maiden voyage christening with your cocktail recipe. (No blossoms, though.) Best wishes,
    njLady

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  2. Eugenia 3 May 2008 / 2:17 pm

    Thanks, njLady! I’ll try that!

    Please let me know what you think of the drink. Perhaps a different sacrificial garnish could be had.

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  3. njLady 6 May 2008 / 6:08 pm

    Hope as I reply that you had a chance to give my theory a whirl. (I cannot take credit for it though, it was passed along by some very knowledgeable cocktailians.)

    I really like the balance of your recipe. I love drinks that have egg white in them but I must confess I used about half an egg worth of egg white only (or an indulgent heaping coffee spoon full – about 1/2 oz.). I have Plymouth gin but the bottle is running low and I was dying to crack open my Citadelle. I must say I think it overpowered the drink. I would say a very balanced gin such as Plymouth or my standard, Bombay (not the Sapphire) would have been better. Your presentation and balance of ingredients will be followed to a fault next time : ) Since elderflower cordial (which is a soda type drink made from elderflower concentrate and sparkling water) always reminded me of a grapefruity flavor, I garnished with a long twist of grapefruit after I flamed a nice medallion of the peel. Not sure if it was a bit much with the bitters, but the buttery yellow colors looked nice. I love the elderflower cordial and hope you enjoy finding many ways to use it.

    Cordially,
    njlady

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  4. Eugenia 9 May 2008 / 6:42 am

    Thanks so much for giving it a whirl and the feedback! We ran out of eggs (my husband gets them at a local farm, so there was a holdup in delivery), so I haven’t made the drink again. We’re now back in business, so I’ll get back to you on your method soon.

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  5. Eugenia 19 May 2008 / 4:51 pm

    Well, I tried! Definitely more foam, but I think I didn’t shake it enough. Once more unto the breach…

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