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St-Germain creator Robert J. Cooper dies

Robert J. Cooper, founder of elderflower liqueur St-Germain, passed away in Santa Barbara, California on Monday, aged 39.

Rob-Cooper St-Germain
Robert J. Cooper has passed away aged 39

His death was confirmed to the New York Times by Robyn Greene, senior vice president at family-owned business, the Cooper Spirits Company. The cause of his death is not yet known.

Cooper was a director at the Cooper Spirits Company and he launched St-Germain to global success in 2007.

Renowned for both his business acumen and creativity, he sold St-Germain to Bacardi in 2012 for a rumoured seven-figure sum.

“We were shocked and extremely saddened to learn of the passing of Rob Cooper, founder of St-Germain,” said Ned Duggan, vice president, St-Germain, at Bacardi.

“Rob was a true visionary, creating one of the most beloved liqueurs to be introduced in recent years. We were honoured to have worked with him over the past several years. His memory and legacy will live on through the innumerable contributions he made to this industry, and especially through his beloved bartending community.”

Bartenders and other industry figures have taken to social media to pay tribute to the drinks entrepreneur.

“I learnt so much from him, his genius and his creativity has always been an inspiration and he has been a true mentor,” Camille Vidal, global brand ambassador for St-Germain, wrote on Facebook.

“Shocking and very, very sad to lose my friend Rob Cooper, a smart and charming man with a rare sense of mischief,” tweeted David Wondrich, noted drinks historian and writer.

Sovereign Wine & Spirits Canada founder Jon Smolensky also tweeted: “Rob Cooper was a pioneer who changed this industry. His accomplishments were signposts to all that bartenders will support a good idea. RIP.”

Cooper spoke to The Spirits Business about the success of St-Germain shortly after it was sold to Bacardi.

“We had a lot of interest from companies to buy St-Germain, but I selected Bacardi as the company I wanted to divest to because I felt they were going to nurture the brand and not commercialise or mass produce it, nor try to take advantage of some kind of economic opportunity.”

He said the highlight of his career was “seeing the happiness wash across people’s faces as they drink St-Germain. I love hearing the stories of how much they love St-Germain. It is very nice, and I feel a tremendous sense of gratitude and reward.”

Cooper is survived by his wife Kaitrin, and their two children, William and Charlotte.

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