Earlier this month, Catskill Provisions reached out to me about concocting a drink with their NY Honey Rye Whiskey to celebrate National Pollinator Month — an initiative to save the bees. As usual, I was my very blunt self, and replied with something along the lines of, “Well, I don’t like flavored whiskey, but I do want to save the bees, so sure!”
While I waited for the bottle to arrive, I imagined masking the flavor with a super-spicy ginger beer and elderflower liqueur. The nice people at Catskill Provisions had assured me their product wasn’t like all the shitty flavored booze out there, but to be honest, I wasn’t convinced. Well, I WAS WRONG, OKAY? It’s not like all the shitty flavored booze out there, and I actually do like it. It even inspired me to go another direction with the drink. After a little sip, the taste that was left in my mouth can best be described as rye that had been poured into a cup that had sweet tea in it before (and hadn’t been rinsed out, of course). And since I love a good tea cocktail, I went with it.
The final product is somewhere in the land of Arnold Palmer and sweet tea — with whiskey, of course. And while you could get away with using just about any rye for this, Catskill Provisions donates 2% of proceeds to bee preservation causes. So that’s a thing to consider.
Oh, and just in case you were wondering, nobody paid me to write this, though I did receive a free bottle of whiskey and a jar of honey. But I get bottles in the mail all the time. Some I write about, others I don’t. Sometimes I get a bottle and I write about it three years later. Other times, I get some weird blue vodka and regift it to friends who actually like that shit.
Anyway, for this drink you’ll need to make a super-simple sweet tea syrup with honey and earl grey tea. Because have you ever tried adding honey straight into a cold cocktail? Whole lotta nope.
Sweet Tea Syrup
2 cups water
8 earl grey tea bags
1 cup honey
Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan. Turn off the heat and steep the tea bags for 5 to 10 minutes. Discard the tea bags and stir in the honey. Allow it to cool to room temperature, then store in an airtight jar or bottle in the refrigerator.
Queen Bee Sweet Tea Cocktail
2 ounces sweet tea syrup (recipe above)
2 ounces rye whiskey
1 ounce fresh-squeezed lemon juice
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Lemon wheel for garnish
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker (or wide-mouth mason jar) with a handful of ice. Shake the shit out of it and strain into an old fashioned glass with a large ice cube or fresh handful of ice. Garnish and enjoy.
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