Posted by: Matt Hamlin | February 1, 2010

Bärenjäger Honey Liqueur & Bee’s Knees

I started seeing promotional materials about Bärenjäger Honey Liqueur late last year. It seemed like they were shooting for a “We’re the new Jagermeister” sort of thing, which appeals to me about as much as Jagermeister. Frankly I’m not that interested in spirits that taste a little funky and can be consumed en masse by party goers at college bars and dance clubs.

But then I recently received an email from someone with Bärenjäger that included a variation on a classic cocktail, The Bees’ Knees. The Bee’s Knees is one of my favorite sweet-tart gin cocktails and it’s spent a long time on the menu at Bar Pilar. It’s traditionally made with gin, lemon juice and honey, though Jeffrey Morganthaler has a great variation using white rum in lieu of gin. In any event, I like to see spirit companies do outreach with classic cocktails so it piqued my interest to try Bärenjäger.

Their promotional materials describe Bärenjäger as:

Made in Germany, this 70 proof vodka-based honey liqueur is made with premium quality honey from the Mexican province of Yucatan. Each 750ml bottle contains 225 grams of natural honey and a mixture of botanicals resulting in a subtly sweet, spicy and herb edged taste profile.

One thing that immediately stands out to me is how sweet Bärenjäger is. It is sweet. Really, really sweet. Not subtle at all, in fact. It smells intensely of honey and it tastes like honey, with a light bit of spice at the end. Sipped warm, it’s not very appealing. Taken as a chilled shot, I can see this having a lot of appeal as a Jagermeister alternative.

But that doesn’t interest me all that much. What interested me was the Bärenjäger variation on the Bee’s Knees. This is the recipe I received from the company promoting this spirit:

Bees’ Knees

2 parts Gin
1/2 part Bärenjäger Honey Liqueur
1/4 part simple syrup
1/2 part fresh grapefruit juice
Combine gin, Bärenjäger, simple syrup, and grapefruit juice in a bar glass over ice an shake well. Strain into a chilled coupe glass.

The first thing that stands out is that there is no way in the world this cocktail will need the simple syrup. The Bärenjäger is more than sweet enough and adding more sugar will make this unpalatable, at least to me. So I took the simple syrup out and did the rest as described:

Bees’ Knees (MBH variation)

2 parts Gin
1/2 part Bärenjäger Honey Liqueur
1/2 part fresh grapefruit juice
Combine gin, Bärenjäger, and grapefruit juice in a bar glass over ice an shake well. Strain into a chilled coupe glass.

This was actually a pretty great cocktail. It was light, sweet, tart and refreshing. It’s different from a classic Bee’s Knees, but the changes are positive.

Like many sweet liqueurs, Bärenjäger is an interesting and challenging ingredient for craft cocktails. It’s sweetness makes balance harder to achieve. But I’m sure people will find other good applications of this spirit in quality, balanced cocktails. I could see it playing a nice role in a Whisky Skin variation, for example. I’ll also be curious to see if Bärenjäger is able to compete with the famous shooting liqueurs or if they push more towards craft cocktails.

Disclosure: This post was made possible because I received a free sample of Bärenjäger Honey Liqueur.

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Responses

  1. Note: COCKTAIL HALL OF FAME first appeared in BARTENDER® Magazine in 1998, then in 2005, and the Trade Mark ™ was shown on page 33.
    SUBMIT RECIPESSend us your top cocktail recipes that you think should be included in the next Hall of Fame to:

    Cocktail Hall of Fame, PO Box 158, Liberty Corner, NJ 07938
    Or Email: BarMag@aol.com

  2. F.Y.I from your friendly neighborhood bärenjäger promotional model
    Your version of the recipe says to combine simple syrup

    • Whoops, thanks for the catch. I’m fixing it now.


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