The St. Germain backlash that's been brewing since before the versatile liqueur made it to Canada may be in full elderflower.
"In the last year and a half, craft bars have started to move away from St. Germain, because it became everyone's favorite song for awhile," Dushan Zaric, owner of New York's Employees Only, told a group of bartenders assembled for a Tales of the Cocktail-Vancouver tasting workshop.
St. Germain elderflower liqueur, invented by the son of Chambord liqueur creator Norton Cooper, has gone from unknown to indispensable crutch in the five years since it won a 'best in show' medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Propelled to
prominence by an energetic marketing campaign and balanced flavor profile, St. Germain is sometimes referred to as 'bartender's ketchup.'
"What's your ketchup?," Zaric asked his audience. "What's your duct tape?"
Zaric -- who mixed his first drink at age eight when his father allowed him to add Campari to club soda -- nearly always returns to Campari when he's stuck for how to improve, unify or enliven a drink. He urged his listeners to figure out which alcohol functions in the same way for them.
"I look at Campari the way a guitarist looks at Les Paul," said Zaric, who repeatedly used musical metaphors in his tutorial.
According to Zaric, there's nothing wrong with bartenders employing the same liqueur or cordial again and again, so long as they master its use. He isn't sure which liqueur will supplant St. Germain for bartenders insistent on specializing in something new and different, although suspects the void might represent an opportunity for microdistilleries.
"That's the million dollar question, isn't it?," he said. "It's the smaller ones that are gaining a lot of traction, but I don't think we'll see another St. Germain."