Tequila is a diverse spirit that can be consumed straight, stirred with liqueurs, shaken with citrus or otherwise fashioned into unique and delicious cocktails. For proof, look to the Tequila Honey Bee, a riff on the classic Bee’s Knees (gin, lemon juice, honey). The agave-forward drink has sweet and tart elements that should appeal to fans of the gin-based classic as well as Margarita drinkers looking for something a bit more interesting than their usual three-part favorite.
This refreshing cocktail comes from Nick Korbee, the executive chef and beverage director at Egg Shop in New York City and author of Egg Shop: The Cookbook. He combines reposado tequila with a touch of smoky mezcal, plus honey syrup, fresh lemon juice and Angostura bitters.
The mezcal pairs brilliantly with the sweet honey and tart lemon, but note that it’s employed sparingly as a rinse, in which it’s used to coat the inside of your glass. That makes the Tequila Honey Bee a great gateway cocktail for anyone new to mezcal. And the bitters—applied onto the drink’s surface rather than incorporated in the shaker—provide a shock of color and keep the drink’s aromatic spice notes front and center.
Pro tip: Don’t reach for that bottle of honey in your pantry. Instead, follow Korbee’s advice and make a quick batch of honey syrup, which is easy to accomplish and requires only honey and water. Equal parts of each will serve you well, but you can experiment and decide how much honey flavor you want in your syrup. The more honey you use, the thicker the syrup and the stronger the flavor. Once you’re done (it only takes a few minutes), the syrup will keep for about a month, which means more honey-laced cocktails are in your future.
- 1 dash mezcal, to rinse
- 2 ounces Espolón reposado tequila
- 1 ounce honey syrup
- 3/4 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- Garnish: lemon peel
Rinse a highball glass with the mezcal, coating the inside of the glass with a thin layer and then discarding the excess.
Add the tequila, honey syrup and lemon juice into a shaker with ice, and shake until well-chilled.
Strain into the prepared glass over fresh ice, and top with 2 dashes of bitters.
Garnish with a lemon peel.