This World Gin Day, we want to celebrate by looking at one of gin’s most complementary flavour profiles: elderflower. Elderflower has been a very popular ingredient and garnish in 2018 and we’re not just talking cocktails – recently the guests at the Royal Wedding were served an artisanal cake made of lemon and elderflower.
Floral cocktails continue to be a trend in bars across the world, so we’ll investigate why this flower (yes, it is actually a flower) has been such a popular ingredient the last few years and how you can recreate this trend at home.
Elderflowers bloom from elder trees, which are very abundant in the U.K. The creamy white flowers are edible, but don’t taste very nice raw. When distilled into a liqueur however – like St Germain – they are very tasty.
To make St Germain, elderflower is picked on the hillsides of the French Alps in a brief four-to-six-week period and then the flowers are macerated so the flavours can be extracted. Elderflower cordial, which can be made at home, is often paired with gin; a good match with the spirit due to its freshness and lack of intense sweetness (that’s why Hendricks’s uses elderflower as a botanical in their gin).
So, what does it taste like? Elderflower is a subtle flower in terms of flavour (it’s still weird to think of flowers in terms of ‘flavours’). They’re generally musky, but not all elderflowers taste the same – apparently the ‘Black Beauty’ variety tastes like a combo of a grape and a lychee.
Particularly in Britain, elderflower is considered to conjure the tastes and smells of summer.
You can use elderflower cordial in heaps of beverages to be honest – with sparkling water, with champagne or with white wine. We love pairing it with gin, whether by including a splash of cordial into a gin and tonic, or adding it to a classic cocktail like a Gin Fizz.
Back in the ‘50s, the Gin Fizz was Paris’ most fashionable cocktail – a perfumer named Henri Giboulet was so taken with the cocktail, that he created a perfume in its honour!
Elderflower adds a great dimension to this traditional mixture.
50mL Tanqueray Gin
20mL lemon juice
10mL elderflower cordial
Soda water to finish
Herb sprig to garnish
1. Shake gin with the lemon juice and elderflower cordial.
2. Pour over ice and top with soda water.
3. Decorate with a sprig of your favourite herb.