Sunday, August 2, 2015

Sipping Summer: A "Burnt Honey" Bourbon Sour for Cook The Books: "The Wedding Bees" by Sarah-Kate Lynch

Every year, Sugar Wallace is gone with her bees, headed for wherever her honeybee queen (currently Elizabeth the Sixth) stops on her grandfather's old map. This year it is New York City, where Southern belle Sugar charms her urban neighbors and seeks to help them with her good manners and her delicious honey. The Wedding Bees: A Novel of Honey, Love, and Manners by Sarah-Kate Lynch is our Cook the Books June/July pick, hosted by Simona of briciole.

The Wedding Bees is a sweet and light romance that I first read back in 2014 as part of a TLC Book Tour. I enjoyed it and was happy to grab another copy and reread it with my Cook The Books friends. However, when I went to write my review, I liked what I said about it back then, so I am quoting part of my review below: 

"In addition to the honey, candles, soaps and other honey and beeswax-based products she makes and sells, Sugar brings along her Southern manners and her desire to help her neighbors to the city--like she has done in the different locations she has lived in since 'escaping' her South Carolina past fifteen years ago. Sugar's neighbors may not think they want her help but they need it--there's George, an ex-doorman needing something to do and some honey to help his leg, Ruby anorexic and seeking comfort through her scrapbook of wedding announcements, Lola, an overwhelmed single mother with a fussy toddler just trying to get by, Nate, a shy, overweight chef who hides from the world, and the warring seniors Mrs. Keschl and Mr. McNally. As she gets to know her neighbors, Sugar is trying her best to avoid Theo, the attractive Scottish lawyer she meets on her first day in the city. Can he convince Sugar that they belong together and that love, and a more permanent address is in her future?

You can see my full review here.

I am a fan of Sarah-Kate Lynch and her books--she has a talent for writing books that are 
filled with quirky, fun characters, a little bit of magic, and usually some pretty mouthwatering food mixed in, The Wedding Bees was no exception. Sugar's neighbors are a diverse and somewhat motley crew, but they are easy to love. Sugar is a likable character, I found some of her actions made me a little crazier on this second read-through, but I like the fact that she doesn't come across and too annoying, and it's easy root for her. Sometimes the world needs happy people and happy endings and this book is full of plenty of warm fuzziness--so, if you are looking for a fun and frothy summer read, put it on your list.

When I reviewed The Wedding Bees last year, I was inspired to make a Bagel Sandwich with Lox and Caper-Dill Spread, and served it with jars of Honey-Mint Lemonade. This round, I wanted to make another honey-based beverage (it's been far too hot to make me want to cook), but this time I wanted to turn up the volume and make a cocktail instead of lemonade.

Sugar has a bottle of Maker's on top of her refrigerator and asked for it "on the rocks, half a teaspoon of my California gold, a squeeze of lime and some fresh mint." I was going to make that drink or the "dawa"--an African drink with gin, fresh lime and honey that was mentioned in the book but, while on Pinterest I became fixated on a pin for a Burnt Honey Bourbon Sour from A Spicy Perspective blog and I kept thinking how perfect it was for the book. I looked at a variety of other honey-based cocktails and toyed with coming up with a recipe for my own, but in the end I couldn't get this one and that 'burnt honey' out of my mind. I decided to make the drink and use some of the leftover burnt honey to make some Spicy-Sweet Honey-Glazed Pecans to nibble on while imbibing. 

Burnt Honey Bourbon Sour
Adapted from A Spicy Perspective
(Makes 1)

2 oz of your favorite Bourbon
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz burnt honey syrup (see below for recipe)
1 tsp of orange marmalade 

Shake all ingredients together with ice, then (using a fine mesh strainer), strain over a serving glass filled with ice.

Burnt Honey Syrup:

Heat 1/2 cup of honey in a small saucepan over medium high heat. Once the honey starts to simmer and foam reduce the heat to low. Let the honey cook over low heat, stirring constantly for another 2-3 minutes, or until the honey turns a deep golden brown. Remove from heat and immediately add 1/3 cup water and stir to combine. Let the mixture cool. This should keep refrigerated for up to a month.

Notes/Results: A little sweet, a little sour, slightly nutty, this is a very drinkable cocktail. I have never been a big whiskey or bourbon fan but I would be perfectly happy sipping this one on a warm day. It's refreshing and delicious. With the local honey and orange marmalade, it was just the right amount of sweet. I used Meyer lemons and I thought it would be a fun touch to grill slices to garnish--in keeping with the burnt honey theme. The spicy-sweet honey-glazed pecans (made in a small pan on the stove with a couple of tablespoons of the burnt honey and a mix of thyme, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, black pepper and sea salt) were a nice accompaniment. I would gladly make both the cocktail and the pecans again. 

The deadline for this Cook the Books round is tomorrow, Monday August 3rd, and Simona will be rounding up the entries at the CTB site shortly after. If you missed out on this round and like books, food, and foodie books, consider joining us for August/September when our pick is Yes, Chef, by Marcus Samuelsson, hosted by Rachel, The Crispy Cook. Hope you join us!



  1. That burnt honey sour sounds fantastic!

  2. Burnt honey syrup just sounds too good. Especially in a cocktail!

  3. Being one that likes to roast and toast various foods, I immediately got intrigued by "burnt honey" in the title. I will come up with a way to use it: thanks for the suggestion. And thank you for contributing to this edition of Cook the Books.

  4. That drink would certainly hit the spot these hot days. Good choice Deb.

  5. I love that you made a cocktail and some nibblers for our Wedding Bees feast. Great post.

  6. I almost posted a Bee's Knees cocktail (but am saving it for a later date). I have also been searching for cocktail recipes that use it is! Thanks, Deb! Great review, too.

  7. Oh my goodness! Make mine a double! Great choice!

  8. Burnt honey, now that's an idea, and the cocktail looks perfect for sunset on the deck.

  9. thanks for sharing this book with me, I really enjoyed it:)


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