Despite being a hopeless consumer, it's usually not my thing to rave here about specific commercial products. But here goes my Rob Walker-esque tip of the hat to St-Germain elderflower liqueur's entry into the American marketplace.
It's the most brilliant branding, marketing, and ad campaign I've seen in quite some time. I first heard about it through a mixologist I interviewed, and then started noticing the stuff popping up in restaurants. From what best I can tell, the marketing folks figured how best to get the product into able hands of skilled practitioners at respectable places. Programs like the Bartender Exchange and recipe competition help build the product's street cred (or bar cred?) and get it used properly. Then they let it trickle down to the rest of us. Then there's probably some Kim-Kardashian-posing-with-a- St-Germain-bottle-at-a-red-carpet-event type of tactics.
Elderflower liqueur wasn't necessarily non-existent in the U.S., it was just obscure. A few years ago I could only find it in the food marketplace section of Ikea when we tried to replicate vermont's Edelweiss martini. This is hardly the most extreme or exotic ingredient; mass-marketing a floral, sweet alcoholic ingredient that can serve as a more pungent simple syrup makes perfect sense. And the ads and packaging are just so damn pretty. The product offers the retro aesthetic appeal of absinthe, minus the opaline glow and mythic effects.
Having considered buying a bottle for a while, the retro courtesan photo postcard insert ad in Food & Wine finally won me over. And after watching Moulin Rouge this week, I was extra primed to totally give in to the New Year's campaign. So now I have my bottle at the ready to make St-Germain enhanced champagne cocktails and toast like it's 1899.