Honey is a particularly popular flavor in cocktails these days as bartenders look for alternative sweeteners to cane sugar, like agave nectar and maple syrup.
Honey pairs well with many different spirits, but particularly ones that have been aged in wood like aged tequila, rum, scotch, and bourbon. The barrels lend caramel or buttery notes to the spirits that age inside them, and those flavors are natural pairings with honey.
The El-Oso, created by Drendan Dorr, a bartender at B&O American Brasserie in Baltimore, is a thick, rich, and fairly sweet cocktail that is lead by honey with tequila presenting itself quietly in the background. Fans of the bourbon-based Old Fashioned may just be converted to tequila with this one.
Some notes on substitutions: If you can’t find Barenjager liqueur, you might try substituting a syrup made from equal parts honey and hot water to thin it out. Most anejo tequilas (100% agave tequila that has been aged a minimum of one year in a barrel) should work, though the Partida is particularly delicious. And Angostura bitters are a good enough replacement for the specified Jerry Thomas’ Own Decanter Bitters that are made by The Bitter Truth Bitters company.
By Brendan Dorr
1.75 fl. oz. Partida Anejo Tequila
.75 fl. oz. Barenjager Honey Liqueur
.3 fl. oz. Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
2 dashes Jerry Thomas’ Own Decanter Bitters
Orange Peel for Garnish
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass, add ice and stir until very cold. Strain into an old fashioned glass with new ice and garnish with orange peel.