A friend in town turned me on to Agave Syrup a few weeks back. We were headed to Atlanta for a visit. He suggested a stop at Trader Joe’s to pick some up. I didn’t quite know what to do with it at first but figured it should work in a cocktail. It is a fructose syrup and therefore sweeter than sucrose. You can use less volume when mixing.

The syrup looks like honey. So, a cocktail with honey seemed like a good starting point. I turned up the Bee’s Knees. This was a spawn of Prohibition made with equal parts gin, honey and lemon juice.  Strog mixers to hide the bad gin. David Embury has a comment in his Fine Art of Mixing Drinks:

Small wonder, then, that this period gave birth to such pernicious recipes as the Alexander—equal parts of gin, crème de cacao, and sweet cream; the Orange Blossom —equal parts of gin and orange juice, with or without the white of an egg; the Bee’s Knees—equal parts of gin, lemon juice, and honey; and so on ad nauseam. And it is only by regarding them as a more or less logical, albeit regrettable, aftermath of prohibition influence that one can account for the many ridiculous formulas still found in the average book of cocktail recipes of today. 

Uhh, is it even worth trying one? Dale DeGroof tweaks the recipe to get the sweet and sour back in proportion (cutting down the honey). He uses honey dissolved in equal parts water to aid mixing and, I suppose, bulk up the volume. I tweaked it a bit more to come up with the Bee Sting. Less dilution, more flavor. It is a keeper, but serve it in a smaller volume glass:

The Bee Sting

  • 1 1/2 to 2 ounces gin
  • 1 ounce fresh, strained lemon juice
  • 1/2 ounce Trader Joe’s Blue Agave Syrup

       (or a comparable syrup with 60 calores per tablespoon)

Place lemon juice in a mixing glass, add syrup and dissolve with stirring. (1/2 oz of syrup is equal to about two bar spoonfulls) Add gin, shake or stir with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Agave is the base for Tequila, so an obvious variation would be to use that in place of the gin. I did. It works great, but add two or three dashes of orange bitters to approxiamate a Margarita.

(Apparently this is how it’s done at Tres Agaves restaurant in San Francisco, sans the bitters)