Respect Your Elderflowers

Author: Kirsten K., Cocktails, Cold Drinks, Drinks, Food & Drink, Spirits
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Belvoir Elderflower Pressé – 100% Good!

On a trip to England in 2002, I was swooning over one of the magnificent gardens in Cornwall when I stopped by a concession stand for a drink and purchased a bottle of something I’d never encountered before: elderflower pressé. I was instantly smitten with its light, floral flavor that had the refreshing astringency of citrus. Although I saw this delightful beverage in several places over the course of my trip, I searched in vain for a bottle once I’d returned home to the United States.

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photo credit: Mika McDonald

Elderflowers bloom in lacy clusters of white or pale cream blossoms and have traditionally been used in Central and Eastern Europe to flavor regional desserts and drinks. Pressé is a French word meaning “squeezed.” The elderflowers are steeped, then pressed to extract as much of the flavor as possible. Most bottled pressé drinks I’ve seen on the market are carbonated and are often labeled as “sparkling pressé”. Translation: elderflower pressé = pressed elderflower soda.

Respect Your Elderflowers 3Years after my trip, I was thrilled to discover Belvoir Elderflower Pressé for sale at my local World Market. From that day forward, I routinely had a bottle chilling in my fridge. I began to take it for granted until one day when I couldn’t find it on the shelf and learned that the store was no longer going to carry it. Fortunately, my devastation was short-lived. A friend discovered that IKEA carries its own version of Elderflower Drink Concentrate (Dryck Fläder to you Swedes) that, when mixed with sparkling water, tasted virtually identical to the pressé I knew and loved—at a fraction of the price.Respect Your Elderflowers 4

In the midst of all this, the holy grail of elderflower beverages made its debut. In 2007, St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur descended from heaven on a cloud of tiny white flowers for the delectation of humankind. I’m not sure what we did to deserve it, but to say that this liqueur is swoon-worthy would be an understatement. From its sweet, nectar-like flavor to the gorgeous packaging that evokes the decadent height of the Roaring Twenties, this product is truly in a class by itself. It can be enjoyed straight from the bottle, but we at The Swoon Society love adding it to a flute of sparkling wine (Kirsti prefers Gruet Extra Dry to balance the sweetness of the liqueur, but if you have a sweet tooth like me, try Gruet Demi Sec).

Respect Your Elderflowers 5Recently, I’ve seen Belvoir Elderflower Lemonade on the shelves of World Market, but I prefer the flexibility and price of the elderflower concentrate (Belvoir also makes an Elderflower Cordial, which is the same as concentrate). In addition to making elderflower soda, it can be used as an ingredient in cocktails and a sweetener for lemonade, or just mixed with plain water for a light thirst quencher.

Now that the elderflower seems here to stay, I no longer worry about being able to find it, but I also make sure to savor it and never again take it for granted. The blossoms only appear for a few weeks in late spring and must be harvested at that time to last the rest of the year, so take a lesson from me and respect your elderflowers!


Stuff Worthy Of Our Notice™ in this post:

Belvoir Elderflower Pressé
Belvoir Elderflower Cordial
IKEA Elderflower Drink Concentrate
St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
Gruet Extra Dry Sparkling Wine
Gruet Demi Sec Sparkling Wine

 

Belvoir Elderflower Pressé (marketed as Lemonade in the U.S.) and Cordial can be found at World Market, some British import shops, and online at Amazon. St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur can be purchased at BevMo. Gruet Extra Dry and Demi Sec are available at many specialty wine shops and liquor stores.

 

Pamplemousse

Author: Kirsti Kay, Cocktails, Drinks, Food & Drink, Recipes, Spirits
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Crème de Pamplemousse Rose liqueur from Combier

Can I just start by saying that I love the word “pamplemousse”? The French word for grapefruit, and so fun to say. I love all things grapefruit. I also love liqueurs in pretty bottles, anything from France, and cocktails in alluring glassware, so Crème de Pamplemousse Rose is a perfect storm of deliciousness.

Pamplemousse 2I have been on the hunt for this spirit for many months, which is made from neutral alcohol and red grapefruit by Combier, the company responsible for the very first Triple Sec, L’Original Combier, created in Saumur France in 1834.

My birthday was this week and my husband, Aaron, was going to be working out of town. I wasn’t thrilled about this news, but Kirsten was going to come over and watch Gidget Goes To Rome with me, so I consoled myself with the thought that I would probably get extra presents to make up for this gross injustice, and I would still have a great birthday hanging out with my best friend. Little did I know that Husband Extraordinaire would surprise me with a Present Treasure Hunt! Kirsten and I had so much fun running all over the house solving riddles, while Aaron laughed at us on FaceTime. The culmination of this extravagant scavenge was a bottle of the glorious Crème de Pamplemousse Rose hidden in the wine fridge in our basement.

Pamplemousse 3After proper tribute was paid to the most excellent planner of birthday shenanigans, Kirsten and I opened a bottle of sparkling wine (I’m partial to Gruet Brut Rosé from New Mexico—if you haven’t tried it, buy several bottles) and added a few generous splashes of the liqueur. You could smell the grapefruit, so lovely and citrusy and fresh. We clinked our glasses and took a sip. It was delicious. It didn’t overpower the sparkling wine, but enhanced its crisp, bubbly majesty.

I have to say, Gidget Goes To Rome did not live up to the original Gidget movie with Sandra Dee, or even the awesome series starring Sally Field (which I record on my DVR and watch before going to sleep on the regular), but the Crème de Pamplemousse Rose exceeded all expectations, and I can’t wait to try it in other cocktails. I think even Moondoggie would have left the beach to hang out with us on my birthday and toast Jean-Baptiste Combier and his wife Josephine for concocting such a wonderful spirit. When Gidget said, “Honest to goodness, it’s the absolute ultimate,” I am sure she was referring to Crème de Pamplemousse Rose.

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Stuff Worthy Of Our Notice™ in this post:

Crème de Pamplemousse Rose
Gruet Brut Rosé

 

Crème de Pamplemousse Rose and Gruet Brut Rosé are available at many specialty wine shops and liquor stores.

 

Yes, Grasshopper

Author: Kirsten K., Cocktails, Drinks, Entertaining, Food & Drink, Recipes, Spirits

I’ve always thought of Crème de Menthe and Crème de Cacao as the kind of alcohol you sneaked from your friend’s parents’ liquor cabinet at a slumber party. Syrupy sweet and not too potent, they were the type of thing that my underage taste buds and underdeveloped palate could tolerate and even enjoy. As I got older, however, I began to develop a taste for wine and what I deemed to be sophisticated cocktails. No candy-colored “mom drinks” for me. That is, until I came across Tempus Fugit Spirits.

Tempus Fugit 1I was initially drawn in by their packaging—sinuous bottles with sumptuous labels that would have been perfectly at home in a 19th-century Parisian bar. Tempus fugit (“time flies”), indeed. But then I read about their Crème de Cacao and Crème de Menthe, and reliable sources seemed to agree: these liqueurs were something new and special, a cut above. The Tempus Fugit website states: “Our goal is to source and recreate rare spirits and liqueurs from the pages of history to satisfy the demands of the most discerning connoisseur.” Being a lover of both history and rare spirits, I had to try them out for myself.

I procured a bottle of each and was delighted to discover that the praise was warranted. The Crème de Menthe is made with spearmint, in addition to the usual peppermint, so it’s cool and refreshing with a little bite that nicely balances the sweetness. And there’s no neon green in sight. The liquid is as clear and pure as the taste on your tongue. The Crème de Cacao, on the other hand, is the rich brown of its namesake, in contrast to the white version that is traditionally used to make grasshoppers. It is truly extraordinary. Thick and sweet without being cloying, it has an intense chocolate flavor that aficionados will adore.

Tempus Fugit 2Put these two together and you have a cocktail that will make your friends swarm…and swoon. This ain’t your parents’ grasshopper. People will plague you for the recipe, so here it is:

TIME FLIES (AND SO DO I) GRASSHOPPER

1.5 oz. Tempus Fugit Crème de Menthe
1.5 oz. Tempus Fugit Crème de Cacao
1.5 oz. light cream
ice

Mix together in a cocktail shaker, then strain into chilled glasses. Serves 2.

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Stuff Worthy Of Our Notice™ in this post:

Tempus Fugit Spirits

 

Tempus Fugit Crème de Menthe and Crème de Cacao can be purchased from K&L Wines.

White Rose Iced Tea

Author: Kirsti Kay, Cold Drinks, Drinks, Entertaining, Food & Drink, Recipes

White Rose 1One thing you will soon learn about us over at The Swoon Society is that we love any food or drink involving floral notes. There is something so lovely about a cupcake with rose frosting or a cocktail with violet liqueur. Some people don’t like eating or drinking things that taste like flowers, and some extracts or liqueurs can be too cloying or sweet, but when the stars are aligned and the flavor is just right…man, it’s magical.

One of my quick, non-alcoholic, go-to party drinks is iced tea made with Numi White Rose tea. It’s organic and light and definitely not too sweet. People are always curious about it and when they taste it, they kind of go crazy. Even guys like it. It’s very refreshing and turns a ho-hum beverage into something people talk about and, well, swoon over.White Rose 2

WHITE ROSE ICED TEA

3 Numi White Rose tea bags
2 cups boiling hot water
1 quart cold water
Handful of bruised mint leaves
2 Tbsp agave or sugar (optional)
Ice
Organic rose petals and mint leaves for garnish (optional)

Place the tea bags in the 2 cups of boiling water and let steep for about 7 minutes. Let cool. Pour tea into a pitcher and add the cold water, mint and agave, if using. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours or more. Pour into glasses with ice and serve with extra mint leaves and organic rose petals for garnish. Serves 6.

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Stuff Worthy Of Our Notice™ in this post:

Numi Organic White Rose Tea

 

Numi Tea is also available at many grocery and specialty stores, including Whole Foods, Sprouts and World Market.