The New York City-based Queen Bee Classic competition challenges female bartenders to create cocktails incorporating honey, Queens Courage Old Tom Gin and other local New York State ingredients. This beguiling, bittersweet cocktail by Laura Gardner of Staten Island’s Hop Shoppe took home the gold this year. The drink combines rich, lightly sweet gin with a homemade hop-honey syrup, fresh New York apples, spicy ginger and dry, sparkling cider.
While hops might seem like an odd cocktail ingredient, their bitterness works beautifully with gin, the same way gin mixes with Campari or tonic water. Though you might associate gin with springtime, this drink makes an argument for its use throughout harvest time. “Drinkers tend to gravitate towards whiskey and other dark spirits in the fall and winter,” Gardner says. “But gin is great all year round.” We couldn’t agree more. Perfect as an aperitif or even digestif (thanks to the ginger), this drink is a brisk, fall day of apple picking, shaken and strained into a glass.