Swiss flavorings and fragrances maker Firmenich is out with its annual Flavor of the Year proclamation, and the company’s top taste for 2015 is…honey.
Within the alcohol beverage world, pure honey has been a sweet addition to specialty drinks and to flavored spirits in recent years, but you could be forgiven for thinking that honey’s crowning as FotY seems a year or two overdue. After all, it was in 2011 that Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey debuted, with Bushmills Irish Honey, Red Stag by Jim Beam Honey Tea and Rebel Yell Reserve Honey joining the fray the next year.
These sweeter sips have posted impressive volume and sales growth since hitting the market, though, and honey as a flavor profile seems to be continuing to gain traction at the bar. Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey, for example, saw volume climb 22% and sales rise 30% from 2012 to 2013, according to Technomic’s DRINK database. And data from Technomic’s MenuMonitor online resource shows that mentions of “honey” (in a drink description or as part of a product name) climbed an impressive 29% on adult beverage menus through the third quarter of 2014. Moreover, the number of MenuMonitor-tracked restaurants and bars offering honey-accented alcohol drinks rose 23%. On menus, honey’s growth was even stronger within the specialty-drinks category (cocktails and mixed drinks, where honey mentions rose more than 60%) than it was in straight spirits listings.
How is honey starring on alcohol beverage menus? Consider these recent menu additions, as identified through MenuMonitor:
- Bitter Bees Knees, Anthony’s Seafood Grill (Lynnwood, WA): Hedge Trimmer gin shaken with fresh lemon juice, honey syrup and rhubarb bitters
- Honey Bee, BLT Steak: Stoli vodka, Barenjager honey liqueur, apple juice
- Blackberry Julep Iced Tea, Burntwood Tavern (Brecksville, OH): Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey, blackberry simple syrup, muddled mint and fresh-brewed tea
- Apricot Sour, Mitchell’s Fish Market: Jim Beam bourbon, lemon juice, house-made honey-apricot syrup
- Sticky Fingers (Chattanooga, TN): Krupnik honey vodka liqueur, Baileys, butterscotch schnapps and a touch of hazelnut cream liqueur, served ice-cold