Ah Elderflower! Sweet, light, and fresh, the delicate little flowers are charming and the scent is absolutely heavenly. When the essence of the blooms is extracted, you have the most exquisitely delicate flavor. Think of soft delicate sweet Spring air and that is Elderflower.
Like linden, this is not really as exotic as you might think in the culinary world. Years ago, I took my first wine sensory experience class and became aware of how often wine and food have floral notes. In that class I was exposed to the floral note of linden, often found in European wines, but not so much in Napa. It seemed so exotic to me at the time! The instructor also noted to the class that it would not be unusual also to have notes of elderflower, gardenia, violet, and what sometimes is called "white floral". After that class I was on the hunt for flowery notes in all sorts of food and wine. Floral notes add amazing interest and it is no coincidence that my favorite spring and summer wine is now Viognier.
You might be wondering, where do I get this unusual flavor? Let me give you the quick skinny on 3 products I have found, have used, and really like (by the way… I am not compensated for these recommendations):
St. Germain Liqueur – about $32.00 per 750 ml
There is no doubt this is the finest liqueur containing elderflower. But before you rush out and buy a bottle, just know it is probably the most expensive. Is it lovely? Absolutely YES! Think of soft juicy pears with the sweetness of elderflower and you have the basic flavor notes of this lovely liqueur. But, in my opinion, it is a shame to use it unless it is the absolute star. To me it is best suited to a single spirit cocktail. Try it on the rocks topped with Hendricks Gin (I am having one now!) or add a few drops to a blanc sparkler. It is also delicious solo on the rocks. This liqueur is so beautiful, it would be a waste to use in mixed drinks containing more than 2 ingredients or any culinary creations.
Drillaud Elderflower Liqueur – About $15.00 per 750 ml
While St. Germain is delicate and refined, Drillaud is assertive but not obnoxious. You won’t find any notes of pear here. It is elderflower and only elderflower. Sweet, not too sweet. My best description of this liqueur is it is like nectar from sweet white flowers. This is very well suited for mixed drinks and culinary endeavors. At a price point of half of what St. Germain costs, you can’t go wrong with this choice.
Monin Elderflower Syrup – (Non-Alcoholic) – About $10.00 per 750 ml
Last, but not least, is Monin Elderflower Syrup. This is a thick beverage syrup with a strong scent of grapefruit. On the palate you will find elderflower with grapefruit and the syrup alone is cloying. This is a fantastic choice for non-alcoholic sparkling beverages but be aware of the sugar punch this product packs. I have tried it, Italian Style, on the rocks in a Collins glass topped with lemon sparkling water and it is very tasty. If you want a budget friendly elderflower flavoring, this is probably your best bet. Remember to adjust sugar content in your creations to allow for this sugary syrup.
Well, that is my roundup of some of the elderflower products available. Again, these are only the ones I tried and liked and I’m sure there are others available that you might also like. Please feel free to write a comment below. I would love to hear about your favorites.