Guess what? It turns out that there are several different elderflower liqueurs in the marketplace, some of which are showing up on bar shelves and challenging the dominance of local favorite St-Germain. You might remember that back in December I did a taste test of St-Germain against one of the competitors – Thatcher’s – and the upstart came out the winner in that particular competition. Shortly after, I heard from the U.S. distributor that in fact St-Germain, as an artisanal liqueur, has a determinate shelf life and thus loses some of its luster when sitting on a bar shelf for some amount of time. After comparing the look of a new bottle with the old I saw that he was quite right, and that they are two very distinct colors. Given the fact that I now had two different bottles of St-Germain, had done one test with the Thatcher’s, and also been given another bottle in the elderflower family, Pür Likör, it seemed only fitting to convene another taste test.
The details: four bottles, two rounds, eight ready and willing testers. The first round consisted of a blind tasting of each of the four liqueurs, all on their own: old St-Germain, new St-Germain, Thatcher’s, and Pür Likör. For the second round we took the top two vote-getters from round one, then tasted those head-to-head.
And who could taste all of this liqueur without a little sustenance to go with? Kalamata olive and goat cheese on fingerling potato rounds, and Chicken Marbella for all, with homemade Kit Kat Bars to finish.
So who the heck won, right?? Turns out that the St-Germain was a bit sweeter than the Pur Likor, though the two were fairly similar. Neither tasted at all like the Thatcher’s, which some thought had a bit of a soapy taste and all agreed had a unique smell (rose water?) before you even got to the taste. The two winners from round 1 were the old and new St-Germain, and the overall winner after round 2 was the new St-Germain, so it would seem that this group was on board with the most popular of the elderflower liqueurs around town.
But given that Thatcher’s had won in December’s tasting, it seemed only fair to whip up the same cocktail used in Face-Off #1 to see if indeed St-Germain was the winner in cocktail form and not just sipped on its own. So back we went to the Gypsy, complete with gin, green chartreuse, and lime juice. And guess what? St-Germain did it again, winning 7 of 8 votes.
Though if you’re a real fanatic – and I only count myself as one on certain occasions – you might say that the Thatcher’s paired well with the Miller’s gin used in Face-Off #1 and the St-Germain paired well in the Cascade Mountain Gin used in Face-Off #2, because in each case the tastes were quite complementary. But if you’re not a fanatic and just want to have a single good bottle of good elderflower liqueur in your bar, St-Germain is the way to go. But make sure to drink it with some expediency…
[Photos courtesy of David Franzen]