The Best Type Of Honey To Pair With Dark Liquors

When a bartender is working to balance out bitter notes in a cocktail with a touch of sweetness, simple syrup and honey are easy additions, per Esquire. Honey can thicken the texture and add depth to a drink, while simple syrup and agave nectar create thinner flavor profiles.

For those bartenders wanting to present local flavor to their clientele, Serious Eats explains that honey is a "locavore" ingredient that derives elements from plants and flowers native to the place the honey was made. Tales of the Cocktail explains that honey has terroir, similar to wine, and honey will take on characteristics of the region it is produced. For example, mesquite honey in Arizona has a strong earthy flavor, or as master mixologist and beverage consultant Kim Haasarud explained to Tales of the Cocktail, "it tastes like the desert."

Whether you're mixing up a hot toddy or a peach Bellini, keep these characteristics in mind because knowing which honey pairs best with each spirit can elevate your cocktails. 

Dark honey pairs well with dark liquors

There are over 300 different types of honey in the United States alone, each with unique flavor combinations, notes Tales of the Cocktail. From light, floral clover batches to earthy, herbal varieties, bartenders and home mixologists alike can use honey to add complexity to their cocktails. 

As a general rule, according to Tales of the Cocktail, lighter honey plays well with lighter spirits, and darker honey matches with darker spirits: think floral gins with Orange Blossom honey and single malt Scotches sweetened with buckwheat honey. Serious Eats characterizes dark brown buckwheat honey as earthy, woodsy, and funky with sweet flavors of coffee and dark chocolate — ideal for drink recipes that include bourbon, rye, and rum. Smoky chestnut honey also pairs well with blended Scotch or Irish whiskey drinks.

On the other hand, mild-flavored Orange Blossom honey carries notes of citrus and is better suited for lighter gin and vodka recipes like a Bee's Knees or lemon-drop martini. If you're in a pinch and hustling to have a variety of cocktails ready to go on the bar, the light and vanilla-scented clover honey can be mixed into almost any recipe that calls for a touch of sweetness.