Spirits Close-Up: Honey


Honey from Brood Honey // Photo by Kevin Kramer, The Growler

This month’s Craft Cocktail, the Paloma at Pajarito, uses honey to provide a little subtle sweetness, so for this month’s Spirits Close-Up we’re taking a closer look at honey and its many uses behind the bar.

Why would I make a cocktail syrup out of honey? Isn’t it already a syrup? Kind of, but we need to lower the viscosity. Honey will dissolve straight away in hot tea, but shake it in a cold cocktail and it’ll just stick to the glass. Simmer the honey in an equal volume of water, let it cool, and you’re ready to mix.

You’re going to have me buy some fancy pants local artisan honey, aren’t you? I am! Small batch honey has great specificity in its flavor. Plus, the people that make it are passionate about helping our dwindling pollinators, which is a critical effort right now.

I just have the regular old honey bear in my pantry. Can’t I use that? Of course. Clover honey is light and floral, and it’ll taste great with every spirit under the sun. Mix it into a bee’s knees or a gold rush, and you’ll be hooked on honey cocktails all spring.

Okay, if I were to buy some nice single-source honey… I knew you’d come around! Taste your honey—what flavors come to mind? Is your alfalfa honey grassy like a gin? Maybe that basswood honey has caramel and vanilla notes like your favorite bourbon. Try to match your honey to a drink that uses regular simple syrup. Like…

Rum = Buckwheat Honey
Worker B’s buckwheat honey is dark, brooding, and tastes like molasses, and that calls for rum. Pair it with Dos Maderas 5+3 rum in a killer old fashioned.

Tequila = Wildflower Honey
The paloma in this month’s Craft Cocktail would be spectacular with something floral like the Marl Pit Honey blend from Bolton Bees.

Aquavit = Orange Blossom Honey
Caraway-forward aquavit begs for some sweet citrus to counter the spice. Mix the stuff from Minnesota Honey Company into a Collins with lemon juice.

Scotch = Dandelion Honey
Mellow out a peat-filled Scotch with some sharp, sweet honey. Ames Farm’s dandelion honey is a direct jolt of sunshine to brighten up a foggy Islay in a penicillin cocktail.

About John Garland

John Garland is the Deputy Editor at the Growler Magazine. Find him on twitter (@johnpgarland) or in every coffee shop on West 7th Street.

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