Honey, I Need You!
Here are some facts you might not have known about honey:
- It's the only food that never spoils. The incredibly high sugar content sucks the life out of bacteria. This is another reason why honey is excellent sweetener when you're sick. It has antimicrobial properties.
- Honey is best stored in dry places, because it has a tendency to suck excess moisture from the air. Too much moisture and it will ferment.
- Despite its delicious taste and healing properties, honey is not what bears are after when they dive for the hive. Pooh-Bear and his cousins are actually hunting for the protein-rich bee larvae.
- Different plants produce different honey – whether it's clover, mesquite, sage, or beet – with a variety of textures and flavor notes. Honey has an earthier, fuller flavor profile than cane sugar. And that's why . . . .
- It's GREAT in cocktails!
The science on sugar is out; it's not very good for us. If you're already making a slight health transgression by imbibing a boozy cocktail, you might as well swap the simple syrup for a richer, tastier substitute: honey. Not to mention it's a relatively inexpensive way to make your drinks feel fancier, more gourmet, more crafted. Experiment with different types of honey from varying sources. Make sure you use honey that's been stored well and hasn't fermented. And remember that because of its strong, distinct flavor, a little goes a long way. Also, because honey's viscosity and density are so different than water and alcohol, it can be difficult to mix it into cold drinks. Best to create a honey syrup first by dissolving it into warm water. Here are a few great recipes to try out:
The Bee's Knees
Named by flappers in the old days, no honey-cocktail is complete without this classic.
2 oz. Gin
¾ oz Honey Syrup made with Raw Organic Honey and Water
½ oz fresh lemon juice
Combine all ingredients in a shaker. Shake, strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with a lemon twist.
What a great drink! If you like gingerbread you will love this Honey Gingerbread. Smooth, sweet and flavorful it is a great drink to serve with food and for parties. It will go with anything! The lime cuts the sweetness a little and adds a tart after bite.
2 oz Jack Daniels® Tennessee Honey
1 oz Ginger Liquor
1 oz Gingerbread Syrup
2 oz Limeade or juice of one large lime
In a shaker with ice add all ingredients and shake well. Strain into highball glass over ice and garnish with a lime wedge.
Whiskey The Pooh
The punny name alone should be enough to draw anyone in to this simple cocktail from Bar None Drinks:
2 oz Scotch Whisky
½ oz Sour Mix
1 tsp Honey
Mix and serve up.
If you live in LA, check out the newly opened Honeycut, a speakeasy-inspired bar by the folks behind Varnish and Seven Grand, offering dozens of vintage gourmet cocktails. Or order an Andalusia Crash at Bow & Truss in North Hollywood.
The next time you mix some cocktails, ditch the sugar and open a jar of honey for a sweet and healthy surprise. Make a honey drink for your friends; they'll think you're the bee's knees.
And check out Holly Bishop's fascinating book Robbing the Bees for more facts about the history and science of honey.
Lauren Eggert-Crowe (laureneggertcrowe.com)
@laureggertcrowe on Twitter