Words by: Simon Difford
Elderflower liqueurs are delicately flavoured, aromatic and floral. Elderflower mixes brilliantly with pretty much every spirit, both white and brown, even combining well with the strong flavours of Islay whisky and mezcal.
However, where fruit is concerned, elderflower tends to mix better with light coloured fruits such as pear, apple and white grapes. Strong berry flavours such as raspberry, blackberry and blackcurrant tend to overwhelm elderflower with only its honeyed sweetness contributing to such drinks, its floral flavours tend to be smothered by these dark fruits.
Back in 2006 I helped formulate and launch the world's first elderflower liqueur, St-Germain Elderflower liqueur and as I received the first samples, many months before we finally launched the product, I believe I was the first to use what has become known as 'bartender's ketchup' in cocktails. Due to the copious samples and the liqueur's promotion being my job at the time, I also have probably created more cocktails using elderflower liqueur than anyone else - I've 33 on this website. I'm quite proud of a number of them and follows what I consider to be my best elderflower cocktails, followed by some great recipes from others.
Amber Room #2
With: Gin, dry vermouth, elderflower and orange bitters.
We say: Created in 2007 by Stephan Berg, Munich, Germany.
With: Cachaça, Aperol and elderflower liqueur.
We say: Created by Jeffrey Morgenthaler, Portland, Oregon, USA.
With: White rum, elderflower liqueur, dry vermouth, lemon juice, sugar and egg white.
We say: Created in 2008 by James Tait.
With: Kumquats, grappa, elderflower liqueur, sugar and a thin layer of red wine floated over the drink.
We say: Created in 2008 by Raffaello Dante at Salvatore's Fifty, London, England.
Elderflower Martini #2
With: Bison grass vodka, vodka, elderflower liqueur and dry vermouth.
We say: Dry but not bone dry with aromatic hints of grass and elderflower.
With: Mint leaves, white rum, elderflower liqueur and lime juice.
We say: This enduring classic benefits from a splash of elderflower.
With: Rosemary sprig, gin and elderflower liqueur.
We say: Adapted from a drink discovered in 2003 at MJU, Millennium Hotel, London, England.
With: Cachaça, Islay malt whisky, elderflower liqueur, lime juice and sugar.
We say: Adapted from a recipe by Ben Sandrof at Drink Boston, USA.
With: Bourbon, elderflower liqueur, Angostura bitters and Rose water.
We say: This serious, bourbon based cocktail ranks alongside the Sazerac in its aromatic complexity.
With: Tequila, elderflower liqueur, grapefruit juice and champagne.
We say: Created in 2008 by Vincenzo Marianella at Doheny, Los Angeles, USA.
With: Poitín, Lillet Blanc, gentaine liqueur, elderflower liqueur, rosemary syrup and orange bitters.
We say: Created in 2014 by Louis Lebaillif at Hawksmoor Air Street, London, England.
With: Celery juice, white rum, bianco vermouth, fino sherry and elderflower liqueur.
We say: A subtle vegetal note comes from the celery in this unusual aperitif cocktail.
With: Gin, elderflower liqueur, lemon juice, lime juice and egg white.
We say: Created by Matt Gee at Milk & Honey, New York City, USA.
With: Vodka, elderflower liqueur, poire william eau de vie, lemon juice and soda water.
We say: This long clear drink has a grassy, alpine aroma and a fresh pine finish.
With: Vodka, elderflower liqueur and champagne.
We say: Created in 2002 by Tony Conigliaro at The Lonsdale, London, England.
With: Pisco, elderflower liqueur, grapefruit juice, lemon juice and soda water.
We say: Created in 2007 by Matt Gee at Milk & Honey, New York City, USA.
With: Bison grass vodka, gentaine liqueur, elderflower liqueur, lime juice, maraschino liqueur, sugar syrup and celery bitters.
We say: Bittersweet with fragrant bison grass vodka and fruity maraschino cherry flavours supported by bitter gentian, rich elderflower and lime juice.