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It feels kind of silly to call this an Elderflower Spritz “recipe.” I mean, you literally just pour everything into a pitcher and stir. It definitely counts as a list of ingredients, of which there are only four. But recipe? Not quite sure. What I do know, is that if you keep reading, you might learn a thing or two about sparkling wines and elderflower liqueur. (A word that I can hardly ever spell correctly, liquer, liqeur, liqueur. Who puts eue together? The French, that’s who.)
What Inspired my Elderflower Spritz:
You might notice GBBO is brought up here a lot. That show in particular is what sparked my desire to cook and bake more often (in the process leading to this blog). So, it has played a big roll (see what I did there) in shaping the way I see food. Being a television show of British origin, contestants often use elderflowers and other ingredients that are not so common in the US.
My first experience with elderflower liqueur happened when I was getting ready to leave my friend’s house. She offered a small nip and I jumped at the chance to give this rather fancy (and, again, French) sounding alcohol a try. She mixed it with a touch of limoncello for sweetness and acidity. It was delicious. I might have to put together a quick recipe for that at some point too. (If you would like to contribute to the purchase of more ingredients and possibly alcohol, consider becoming a patron.)
Side note: If you have never experienced a Minnesota goodbye, I would highly recommend trying it at least once. It will only take 15-60 minutes, typically… certainly not more than a day or two tops.
Side side note: With this sampling of liquor happening just prior to leaving, I did not drive home. I always have a sober driver with me (most of the time my husband because he doesn’t really drink). Please, don’t drink and drive.
Well, Ain’t I Clever
I am actually not a big drinker. I have drank more since starting this blog than I have in the previous 5 years. And it’s a reason I don’t have more cocktails on my site. But they are fun to photograph so I will keep making them.
Anyway, not having that boozy background, I thought I was being super clever coming up with an Elderflower Spritz. Turns out, I wasn’t as clever as I thought I was. In fact, when I went to the St. Germaine website, it was their signature cocktail.
My recipe differs a bit from theirs, and almost all of the other recipes I have found. There are variations upon variations of Elderflower Spritz (is spritz the plural of spritz? We better ask the French.). Most of them change the amount of liqueur to sparkling wine proportions. While testing, the thing I always found missing was that little bit of sweetness and acidity. Since I didn’t have limoncello in the house, I tried a bit of fresh squeezed orange juice and that did the trick!
What Sparkling Wine Did I Use?
I used Piazza Grande Lambrusco Brut in my version. It is a dry, inexpensive sparkling red wine from the Emilia-Romagna region of France. It’s what helps to give this drink it’s beautiful pinky red hue. Any light-bodied, dry, lambrusco should work well for this cocktail.
Dry vs Sweet Wine
I was having a conversation with my teenage son about this cocktail. And I was explaining to him that the opposite of a sweet wine is a dry wine. He just responded with, “That’s so dumb. And makes no sense.” So, I thought I would take a look around to see if I could figure out why the nomenclature is the way it is.
What I have found is that to be considered a sweet wine, the wine must contain more than 30 grams per liter of residual sugar (unfermented grape sugars). To be dry, a wine must have less than 10 grams per liter of residual sugar. Anything in between is considered off-dry. It has nothing to do with the mouthfeel after drinking wine (that’s the amount of tannins in the wine). My sense… and I base this on nothing more than intuition… is that the practice was originally introduced in France.
What is an Elderflower?
Elderflowers are the flowers of a deciduous shrub commonly referred to as elder, elderberry, black elder, European elder, European elderberry, and European black elderberry. There are many species of the elderberry shrub, but the flowers used to make elderflower liqueur are harvested from the Sambucus nigra species.
How do you make Elderflower liqueur?
Just like making elderflower syrup, making elderflower liqueur begins by getting fresh elderflowers and soaking them in warm water a process called maceration. Once the elderflowers have given up their flavors, they are pressed to release all of the water. That elder infused water is then mixed with water, sugar, and spirits (brandy or vodka are often used).
Why is Elderflower liqueur so expensive?
Elderflowers need to be picked at their peak during a relatively short period of time. According to the St. Germain website, “…elderflowers [are] harvested by hand once a year. The harvesting season lasts for approximately three to four weeks in late spring…”. With a surprisingly fruity note of pear and lychee that lingers on the tongue, it’s well worth the time crunch.
I feel like I have been picking on the French throughout this blog post. And being a Minnesotan, I feel guilty about that. I want to say, I love the French. They have delicious food. And wine. And cheese (yes, cheese is a food but it’s its own special food because it is amazing). So, I apologize if I have offended anyone.
Please drink responsibly. And as I said above, do not drink and drive.
- Ice enough to fill ⅔ of your pitcher
- 250 milliliters Elderflower Liqueur chilled
- 750 milliliters Brut Red Sparkling Wine chilled
- 6 ounces Sparkling Water chilled
- Juice from 1-2 medium oranges chilled
- Optional: Oranges to garnish
- Add ice to your pitcher, then pour in 250 milliliters elderflower liqueur, 750 milliliters (1 bottle) brut red sparkling wine, 6 ounces sparkling water, juice from 1-2 medium oranges. Stir to combine and serve immediately garnished with an orange slice (if using).