“Drink, Monsieur,” said the King. The dark eyes were hooded once more, showing nothing. “Or are you afraid?”
The Comte might have a number of things to his discredit, but cowardice wasn’t one of them. His face was pale and set, but he met the King’s eyes squarely, with a slight smile.
“No, Majesty,” he said.
He took the cup from my hand and drained it, his eyes fixed on mine. They stayed fixed, staring into my face, even as they glazed with the knowledge of death. The White Lady may turn a man’s nature to good, or to destruction.
The Comte’s body hit the floor, writhing, and a chorus of shouts and cries rose from the hooded watchers, drowning any sound he might have made. His heels drummed briefly, silent on the flowered carpet; his body arched, then subsided into limpness. The snake, thoroughly disgruntled, struggled free of the disordered folds of white satin and slithered rapidly away, heading for the sanctuary of Louis’s feet.
All was pandemonium.
Diana Gabaldon, Dragonfly in Amber (Chapter 27 – An Audience with His Majesty)
The Comte St. Germain’s story is too strange to be fiction. He is, in fact, a real-life gem, plucked straight out of the pages of history by Diana, and thrown by her into the fracas-filled adventures of Jamie’s & Claire’s time in France.
A man of many names and reputations — royal confidante, composer and musician, inventor, alchemist, occultist, immortal, charlatan – the Comte St. Germain traveled and lived all over Europe in his 70+ years. He was the original International Man of Mystery.
Throughout it’s history, Paris has been described as a mélange curieux, a curious mixture of flavors, styles and influences. One of its more notorious 18th C residents, the Comte could be characterized in the same way.
As could the liqueur that bears his same name.
St. Germain is an artisanal liqueur made in France from handpicked elderflowers. The flavour is subtle yet complex, and with half of the sugar of most other liqueurs, St. Germaine is never cloying. When you pair it with a common G&T, its lightly floral and honeyed sweetness perks up the gin at the same time it takes the bitter edge off the tonic, or, if you prefer, the poison of your choice. Bitter cascara, anyone?
As with many of my Beyond the Books recipes, this one came about after a good deal of bandying about online. I have been lucky enough to fall into a wonderful group of Outlander fans on Facebook — women who I
talk type to everyday. One friend, Lori, and I have become especially close. She is OK’s number one recipe tester and idea bouncer off-er, all from almost 3000 miles away.
I’ve gotten to know her husband, JZ, pretty well too. He’s not an Outlander fan, but we’ll forgive him because he concocted this delicious cocktail that I spent most of the summer enjoying. He has christened it the Zesper, a combination of James Bond’s Vesper and the Z in his own last name.
To make it the way its creator intended, there are a couple of things you should know: Hendricks is his gin of choice, and a lime twist, while adequate, will never equal that of a lemon.
Admiring my glowing goblet? It’s a souvenir Frodo glass from the Lord of the Rings. Purchased at Burger King in 2001, it has shown a supernatural lifespan worthy of the Comte. Miraculous, actually.
(Click on the title below for a printable version of the recipe.)
:A spirited, sophisticated cocktail made from gin, tonic, and lightly sweetened with St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur. Poison never tasted so good.
Yield: 1 Zesper
- Gin – 1½ oz
- St. Germaine Elderflower Liqueur – ½ to ¾ oz
- Tonic – to taste
- Lemon Twist
Pour the gin and St. Germaine over ice into your highball/old-fashioned glass of choice, top up with tonic, and add the twist.
Make a second drink for a friend, toast the Comte, and ponder the here, the now and the everlasting.