Last night the backyard hummed when I took the dogs out, and bees were everywhere. We have two neighbors with hives, and with a yard full of flowers I am sure that our neighbor's honey is the taste of our yard and neighborhood.
In honor of the neighbor bees, how about a couple of honey cocktails to drink this weekend? Or tonight?
Honey is a tricky ingredient. If it gets cold it hardens up and sticks to the inside of the cocktail shaker rather than mixing properly into the drink. The best way to use straight honey is to mix it with the rest of the ingredients first (I find stirring to be much more effective than shaking), then add your ice, shake to chill, and serve. This is the option I prefer, but if your house is cold, or your shaker is cold, or your ingredients are chilled, just be prepared to be a bit zen as you stir in your honey.
Option 2 is to make honey syrup, which is equal parts honey and warm water. Shake or stir to mix and store in the fridge. The trade-off is a less intensely honeyed drink, but you get a faster cocktail. You just have to remember to do it in advance, so you aren’t mixing warm syrup in (which will make the ice melt faster, and then you will have a watery, less potent, less delicious drink).
I went with grapefruit drinks since honey- and lemon-based cocktails are fairly common these days (but let me know if you need recipes!). Both are adapted from CocktailDB, my favorite cocktail resource on the world wide web.
1 1/2 ounce gin
1 1/2 ounce fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice
1/2 – 3/4 ounce honey (if you go with honey syrup, use 3/4 ounce) If your honey is particularly strong or sweet, use 1/2 ounce. If it is mild honey, or if you like a sweeter drink, use 3/4 ounce.
Put these ingredients in your shaker and stir with a spoon until the honey is dissolved. Then, fill the shaker with ice, shake, and strain into a glass that is half full of ice. Top with soda water.
2 ounces bourbon
2 ounces grapefruit juice
1/2 – 3/4 ounce honey (as above: if you go with honey syrup, use 3/4 ounce) If your honey is particularly strong or sweet, use 1/2 ounce. If it is mild honey, or if you like a sweeter drink, use 3/4 ounce.
Put the above ingredients in your shaker and stir with a spoon until the honey is dissolved. Then, fill the shaker with ice, shake, and strain into a glass. Add a few ice cubes. Top with soda water and a few drops of cardamom bitters. Cardamom and grapefruit have particularly awesome flavor synchronicity, and if you like grapefruit cocktails, it is worth the investment to buy a bottle.