Without question, the biggest thing to happen to the spirits world last year besides the legalization of absinthe was the unstoppable success of St. Germain, the elderflower liqueur released in Spring 2007. Bartenders, shop owners—everyone fell in love with it. It was hard not to because it is so damn good—fully flavored, but in a remarkably integrated and tactful way, sweet but not too sweet, incredibly long finishing… just an extremely well-made product for sipping or mixing.
I have a feeling when it gets out there, people will be saying similar things about another new product released last October, Canton ginger liqueur, the first major ginger spirit on the market. It is a French-made mixture of Cognac and, as they call it, “rare baby ginger” (Praise the Baby Ginger on high!). Vanilla, ginseng and honey were added to facilitate the blending of spirit and root. The ginger is evidently all hand-peeled and cut before infusing the cognac. This is all inspired, by the way, by an older and similarly named product made in French-influenced Siam in the mid-18th century.
Whatever. It’s good. All the things I said that apply to St. Germain can be said for Canton, as long as you substitute the word “ginger” for “elderflower.” It’s a kinder, gentler way to add ginger to a cocktail than muddling fresh ginger or adding Bermudan ginger beer. I can’t wait to play around with the bottle I’ve got at home.