Maximilian Affair Cocktail Recipe

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Maximilian Affair Nutrition Facts






Created by

Nic Polotnianko

I fell in love with the art of mixology 6 years ago. Since then, I've honed my skills, crafting a myriad of cocktail recipes, and sharing my passion with other enthusiasts.

Last Updated: January 16, 2024


The Maximilian Affair is a modern cocktail that combines the smoky notes of mezcal with the floral sweetness of St. Germain Elderflower liqueur. It's a sophisticated choice that appeals to those who appreciate complex flavors and a touch of elegance in their drinks.

  • Origins: While the exact origins are not clear, it's part of the contemporary cocktail movement that embraces craft spirits.
  • Popularity: This cocktail has gained popularity among connoisseurs who enjoy a balance of smoky and sweet.
  • Preferred Occasions: Ideal for evening soirees or as a dinner cocktail.

How Maximilian Affair Tastes?

The Maximilian Affair offers a smoky base with a sweet, floral undertone, and a hint of bitterness from the Punt e Mes. It's a complex, layered drink that's both refreshing and bold.

Interesting facts about Maximilian Affair

  • The cocktail is named after the Austrian Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian, who became Emperor of Mexico.
  • Mezcal, the primary spirit in this cocktail, is made from agave, similar to tequila, but with a distinctive smoky flavor.
  • St. Germain, a key ingredient, is made from elderflower blossoms that are handpicked once a year.



The rich, smoky flavor of 1 oz of mezcal serves as a robust foundation for the cocktail. If you skimp on the mezcal, you'll lose the signature smokiness; if you overdo it, the smoky flavor might overpower the more delicate notes. Alternative: Try substituting with tequila for a less smoky and slightly sweeter profile.

Mary Mitkina

St. Germain Elderflower liqueur

1 oz of St. Germain infuses floral sweetness, adding elegance and complexity. Without it, the drink loses its signature flowery charm, and might become a bit too harsh. Alternative: Elderflower syrup mixed with a touch of vodka can be used if you can't find St. Germain.

Mary Mitkina

Punt e Mes

The 1/2 oz of Punt e Mes, a dark and bitter vermouth, provides depth with its herbal and slightly bitter flavor, balancing the sweet from St. Germain. Too much can make the drink too bitter, and too little can leave it unbalanced. Alternative: Sweet vermouth can replace Punt e Mes for a less bitter and sweeter drink.

Alex Green

Lemon Juice

1/4 oz of lemon juice adds a zesty, fresh punch. It's all about balance; too much, and the cocktail becomes sour, too little and it may taste flat. The acidity also helps to cut through the sweetness of the liqueur. Alternative: Lime juice can work in a pinch, but it will alter the flavor profile significantly.

Mary Mitkina

Lemon Twist

The lemon twist garnish is more than just looks; expressing (twisting over the drink) releases the essential oils, which adds a bright aroma and complements the cocktail's flavors. Alternative: An orange twist could add a slightly different, sweeter citrus aroma if desired.

Mary Mitkina

Recipe. How to make Maximilian Affair Drink

  1. Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
  2. Shake vigorously until the mixture is well chilled.
  3. Strain the cocktail into a chilled coupe glass.
  4. Express the lemon twist over the surface of the drink to release its oils, then drop it into the cocktail.

Pro Tips

  • Always use fresh lemon juice for the brightest flavor.
  • Chill the coupe glass beforehand to keep your cocktail cold longer.
  • When expressing the lemon twist, do it over the glass so the essential oils are captured in the drink.

Perfect Pairings

Food Pairings

  • Grilled Seafood: The smoky flavor of mezcal and the freshness of lemon make this cocktail a great match for grilled shrimp or octopus.
  • Spicy Mexican Dishes: The cooling effect of St. Germain balances out the heat from dishes like tacos al pastor.
  • Cheese Plates: Pair this cocktail with a selection of mild cheeses, such as goat cheese or brie, which won't overpower the delicate elderflower notes.

Drink Pairings

  • Sparkling Water: A side of sparkling water can cleanse the palate between sips.
  • Pale Ale: A craft pale ale with citrus notes can complement the cocktail's citrusy and herbal flavors.

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What you could change in Maximilian Affair

  • Mezcal: If mezcal is too smoky for your taste, try a milder agave spirit like blanco tequila.
  • St. Germain: In a pinch, you could use another floral liqueur, though the unique taste of elderflower is hard to replicate.
  • Punt e Mes: A different sweet vermouth could be used, but Punt e Mes has a distinctive bitter edge that balances the cocktail.

Explore all drinks starting with M here

And of course - twists🍹

Smoky Apple Affair

  • Swap St. Germain for Calvados (apple brandy)
  • Use smoked sea salt rim Recipe: Substitute St. Germain with 1 oz of Calvados, and prepare the glass with a smoked sea salt rim. The result is a more autumnal drink with an apple twist and a salted edge that underscores the smoky notes of mezcal.

Spicy Maximilian

  • Add a few dashes of chili bitters
  • Rim the glass with Tajín (chili-lime salt) Recipe: Add a few dashes of chili bitters along with the original ingredients. Rim the glass with Tajín for a spicy kick that complements the mezcal's smokiness and balances the cocktail's sweetness.

Herbal Elixir Affair

  • Use thyme infused simple syrup instead of St. Germain
  • Garnish with a sprig of thyme Recipe: Replace St. Germain with 1 oz of thyme-infused simple syrup. The herbal notes from the thyme bring a earthy, savory quality to the cocktail, creating a more herbaceous and less sweet alternative.

In case you forgot basics how to make Maximilian Affair

Add your ingredients to the shaker first, then ice. Fill it up to ¾ of its capacity to ensure enough space for shaking. Hold the shaker with both hands (one on the top and one on the bottom) and shake vigorously. The shake should come from your shoulders, not your wrists.

Learn everything on how to shake

Place your chosen strainer on top of the shaker or mixing glass, ensuring a secure fit. Pour the cocktail into a glass through the strainer, which will catch solid ingredients and ice. If double straining, hold the fine mesh strainer between the shaker and the glass.

Learn everything on how to strain

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Frequently Asked Questions on Maximilian Affair

How do I choose a good quality mezcal for the Maximilian Affair?

Look for mezcals that are labeled '100% agave' and check for a certification from the Consejo Regulador del Mezcal. The region of origin and the type of agave used can also influence the flavor profile of the mezcal.

Can the Maximilian Affair be batched for parties?

Yes, you can batch the cocktail by multiplying the ingredients by the number of servings you need. However, it's best to add the lemon juice freshly before serving to maintain its bright flavor.

What is the significance of the cocktail's name, 'Maximilian Affair'?

The name could be inspired by historical figures or events, such as Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico, or it could simply be a nod to the sophisticated nature of the cocktail. The origins of the name are not well documented.

Are there any rituals or customs associated with drinking mezcal in the Maximilian Affair?

Traditionally, mezcal is sipped slowly and can be accompanied by orange slices and worm salt. For the Maximilian Affair, the focus is on enjoying the complex interplay of flavors rather than following specific drinking rituals.

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