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Elderberry: The new "It" flavor

The next new flavor makes the scene. Pomegranate had its reign, then acai. What’s the next “it” flavor on the cocktail scene?

Elderberries and elderflowers wouldn’t be a bad bet. For the Hollywood opening of “Oceans 13” George Clooney ordered up 800 elderflower cocktails. Like pomegranate, elderberries and elderflowers are said to have health benefits. And like Pama, the pomegranate liqueur, the elderflower has a champion in the new liqueur St. Germain.

Elderberries and elderflowers contain high amounts of vitamins A and C as well as flavonoids and antioxidants. Elder teas are prescribed for colds and flu. Ricola, the cough drop, contains elderflowers.

Beverages from elderberries and elderflowers have been produced for centuries. The Italian liqueur Sambuca is made from anise and elderberries. In the U.K., elderberry and elderflower soft drinks are popular. Elderberry is also one of the flavors in trendy Bionade, a fermented soft drink that’s sweeping Europe. As for the hard stuff, Ebulum Elderberry Black Ale is brewed from a 16th century formula; the famous St. Peter’s Brewery makes an Elderberry Beer; and Bottle Green distills an Elderflower Cordial.

Elder is now showing up in restaurants in the United States. British-based Pret A Manger sells Elderflower Youth, a soft drink. Smoothie chain Elderberry’s in Roanoke, Virginia, offers an elderberry flavor. Even Dunkin’ Donuts’ has an elderberry smoothie.

Most of the elder action is in the bar. Every fall, when elderberries are in season, Otto’s Pub & Brewery, in State College, Pennsylvania, brews a batch of Mom’s Elderberry Stout. Selling at $3.75 a pint, the stout sells out so fast, says brewer Charlie Schnable, that he’s planning to source more berries next year.

“One of our most popular cocktails uses elderflower cordial,” says Holly Roberts, mixologist with Amalia Restaurant & Lounge in New York City. The drink muddles the cordial with black cherries and gin.           

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