Bärenjäger

The day after I ran a post on cream liqueurs, the Liquor Fairy rolled up here at the Pegu Lounge and presented me with a golden bag containing marketing materials and a bottle of Bärenjäger Honey Liqueur. Is the Fall “Liqueur Season”?
You see Bärenjäger all over the place, but I had never tried it myself. I’ve spent the last few days trying it in different ways, so let me give you the run down.
BärenjägerIn medieval times, bears were considered mighty good, if mighty dangerous, eating. Hunting them was something of a specialty, and these specialists were called Bärenjägers. In order to help them find the bears, they would employ a distilled mead concoction as bait. What the Bärenjägers did in order to not be eaten, I’m not sure. Perhaps they just let the bear drink its fill before they approached it.
Still, hunting bears was a pretty stressful occupation. Eventually, some of the hunters, probably after one too many close calls, decided that a sip or three of his own bait might calm his nerves…. By the 1400′s, Bärenjäger was being produced commercially for human consumption. And apparently still as bear bait as well, since it was first produced by a bear hunting outfitter. I think the modern equivalent would be if Orvis sold appetizers also suitable as fish bait. (For a possibly more accurate version of this tale, visit Bärenjäger’s history page.) In the mean time, here is photographic proof of Bärenjäger’s appeal to bears:
Bear-Bait

Hello there!
I’ll have what he’s having!

You are such a pig….

I’ll tack on a note about Bärenjäger’s website here. I usually disdain flash sites, and not just because I’m an iPhone addict. But Bärenjäger’s flash site is actually kinda cool and creative. I do suspect it would be hard to use after several rounds of the product, however. You have to chase down these bees which fly around the bottle with your mouse in order to make selections….
I just wrote about how cool it was to encounter liqueurs that I liked straight, in the old-school manner, and Bärenjäger is about as old-school as it gets, so I first tried straight Bärenjäger on the rocks.
Um, no.
It tastes good, mind you. But it has too simple, and a bit too sweet, a taste by itself to sustain my interest for long. With the cold and flu season coming on, I’ll keep it in mind for when I’m inevitably caught without cough suppressant. I believe a good solid slug of Bärenjäger at bedtime will soothe your throat and otherwise help you get some sleep.

Doug is not a doctor, so don’t trust his medical advice farther than you can throw the Internet.

To be sure. But I betcha it works at least as well, if not better, than the one-to-one mix of Jack Daniels and Honey I usually employ!
Anyway, it was clear that I needed to delve into the available recipes to see how to best enjoy this liqueur. My favorite of the traditional Bärenjäger cocktails is the Bee Hive. Incidentally, I also asked Bärenjäger’s brand rep, Kate, what was her favorite, and she prefers this one as well.
BeeHive

BEE HIVE

  • 1 part Bärenjäger
  • 1 part whiskey (I used Rittenhouse Rye)
  • 1 part fresh squeezed lemon juice

Stir and serve on the rocks.

Now we start to see what you can do with this stuff. The Bee Hive is not too sweet, not does it seem overly strong. (It is strong, but it doesn’t seem that way, so be careful.) The most interesting thing that the drink reveals is that Bärenjäger does not provide a real strong honey taste to a drink, but it absolutely fills your nose with the aroma of honey. I also think that if you were to shake this with cracked ice, it would make a very good shooter.
In an effort to surf the new cocktailian wave, Bärenjäger just held a competition in New York to invent new cocktails employing the bear hunter to modern mixological effect. You can see all the entries here, or you can see the results here. I didn’t have the necessary ingredients for either winner, so I instead whipped up one of the finalists that caught my eye, the Limburg, by Neil Grosscup.

THE LIMBURG

  • 1 part Bärenjäger Honey Liqueur
  • 2 parts Bols Genever
  • 2 parts apple cider
  • 1 part fresh lemon juice
  • 10-12 fresh mint leaves

Gently crush the mint leaves in a shaker, them add ingredients and shake vigorously with large ice. Double strain into an old fashioned glass with larger ice. Garnish with an apple slice if you like.

I took the liberty of slightly modifying Neil’s recipe to make the measurements consistent, by the way.
This is a delicious cocktail. You end up with that same honey aroma, but the flavor is neither honey nor genever. You can sense both, but neither is your first impression. It’s a delicious, sweet, floral, and elegantly balanced cocktail, and if you have any of the Bols on hand when you get some Bärenjäger, I heartily recommend it.
I also ventured beyond Bärenjäger’s offerings. After my first tastes of the straight stuff, it also occurred to me that this would make an excellent substitute for honey syrup. I like honey syrup, but I’m lazy about making it, and I only have so much space to store all my home-made stuff. Also, Bärenjäger has a much better shelf-life than honey syrup, I suspect. Regardless, I can truly say that this medieval European bear bait makes a handy addition to your faux-Polynesian Tiki arsenal. It’s as logical and delicious as anything else Tiki…. Try the Cuba Kula, made with Bärenjäger, on for size.

CUBA KULA

  • juice of 2 fresh limes
  • 1/2 oz. Bärenjäger Honey Liqueur
  • 1 oz. orange juice
  • 1 oz. Appleton V/X rum
  • 1 oz. Lemon Hart Demerara rum
  • 1/2 oz. 151
  • 1 dash Angostura Bitters
  • 1 dash absinthe

Shake with large ice and pour, with the ice, into a tall Daiquiri or Hurricane glass. Garnish with a homemade maraschino cherry and a lime wedge, married on a skewer.

Finally, I’d like to say a word about the bottle. I’ve mentioned before that I’m a sucker for bottles with funny hats. This bottle has a little plastic beehive on top that is very cute. Be careful when you first open the bottle, however, as the metal cap underneath the hive can strip out before it breaks its seal, as mine did. But once you get it open, the funny cap and the wicker wrap on the bottle give a very distinctive, old world appearance.
All in all, Bärenjäger is nice and handy stuff.

UPDATE—Oh. Apparently someone got the bright idea to issue Bärenjäger to jihadis….

The-Liquor-Fairy-ThumbThe Liquor Fairy Was Here!
The following product, Bärenläger Honey Liqueur, was recently provided to me as promotional consideration to encourage me to discuss it.
For a complete disclosure of my policies regarding promotional items and all other financial interests, please click this link, or follow the Liquor Fairy link in the header of this page.

About the author

Doug

I am 48 years old, married with two young daughters. My interests are tennis, reading, computers, politics, and of course cocktails. I run a murder mystery party business that caters to both corporate and private events, Killing Time, murder consultants.

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