I love St. Germain, and it's become a staple at my house... but it is so damn expensive. I'd like to make a homemade version using elderflower cordial for a fraction of the price.

St. Germain lists their ingredients as: fruit Spirit, elderflower, sugar cane. What type of fruit spirit is it? Pear / lychee?


4 Answers 4


All I've seen anywhere is that the base is eau-de-vie. Eau-de-vie means different things in different places but, in France (where St. Germain hails from) it basically means any distillate. I'd venture to say, since St. Germain refuses to specify, that it's actually a blend of unaged fruit brandys. If this is the case, it almost certainly includes pear (who's distillate is pretty popular in France).... and if you mix grapes and strawberries (both grown in France) you can come close to something approximating lychee (which I doubt they would ship in). The addition of the elderflower would push the grape/strawberry even closer in that lychee direction. This is all just speculation, a whimsy to kick around over a cocktail.

Realistically, I'd pick up a bottle of high quality syrup (Monin is popular), and use that to replace the liqueur. You want to use less in the cocktail as it's sweeter, but it'll bear the brunt of the work. You can add a cheap neutral vodka (like Smirnoff) to thin it out if you like. Don't use water to cut it, it'll change the mouthfeel and water down your cocktail. For further experimentation you can use a combination of pear brandy or schnapps (really anything clear and pear flavored) and vodka, I'd start with two parts vodka to one part pear. You'll want to mix the two because otherwise the pear will likely be too strong. Consider garnishing with an orange or lemon twist to replace the citrus in the St Germain. I wouldn't worry too much about the lychee side of things, it seems any options would run pricey. Yeah, your mix will be lacking something but, no matter what you do it won't be quite be the real McCoy.... let us know how it turns out. Cheers.


I think you are misunderstanding what "fruit spirits" are. It is essentially ethanol. Spirits (or ethanol) are derived from something fermenting. This can be sugar, fruit or grain based. Fruit based spirits are things like brandy where wine (from grapes) is distilled down to ethanol. I have a feeling this is grape based spirits. The base isn't all that important since the spirit flavors are pretty neutral.

To make this I would get a very neutral vodka or Everclear (if you can) and start mixing in Elderflower Syrup and some sugar and experiment until you like it.

  • Steve, do you think that St Germain is possibly made with the base of a Fruit Spirit like a good French Brandy instead of perhaps using a vodka or Everclear as a base?
    – Ken Graham
    Dec 8, 2016 at 21:16
  • No, that would give it a whisky/brandy flavor. You just want to taste elderberries and nothing else so neutral spirits are what you want. Dec 9, 2016 at 0:29
  • That should be ELDERFLOWERS not berries Dec 9, 2016 at 3:10
  • Oui. It smelled of elderberries!
    – Nathron
    Dec 10, 2016 at 2:08

Macerar la flor de sauco en brandy de uva de origen Borgoña,Tamay o chardonay, y Pinot noir. Redestilar una parte de esta filtrar la otra parte y realizar un ensamble de estas dos más brandy de uva de preferencia Borgoña ,Tamay, chardonay y Pinot noir. Agregar azúcar de caña no mucha para no hacer muy dulce. Prueba también en vez del azúcar licor de lyches más si propio jarabe y comparte cómo quedó. José cine Bartender (mixologo) y estudiando sommelieria Cozumel palace

  • 1
    Best I could do: Macerate elderflower in grape brandy of Burgundy, Tamay or Chardonay origin, and Pinot noir. Redirect part of this, filter the other part and assemble a grape brandy (preferably Burgundy, Tamay, Chardonnay) and Pinot noir. Add sugar cane - not much otherwise it'll be too sweet. Also instead of sugar try lyche liqueur. -José cine Bartender (mixologist), studying sommelieria Cozumel palace
    – Nathron
    May 29, 2018 at 19:25

St. Germain is made from liqueur flavored with Elderflower.

As soon as the flowers reach the collection station, they are immediately macerated using a “secret” family technique, which is said to give them the best flavor, while not being too bitter, too sweet or as inconsistent as other methods, such as freeze drying or pressing the flowers.

These are then infused into eau-de-vie (Unaged Brandy), although this part of the process is not well elucidated by the company. The spirit is then sweetened lightly, but is said to contain less sugar than a typical liqueur. The liqueur is then bottled.

Since st. germain is made without any preservatives, it is recommended that you use the bottle within 6 months of opening.


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