Thyme-Kissed Pear-Infused Honey Syrup & The Bee’s Knees

The Bee's Knees

Last week, we talked about one of the simple little things turned newest obsession that came out of Easter dinner. Today, we’re going to talk about the other: pear-infused honey syrup.

(I am pretty excited about this post, you guys. First of all, this syrup is dang delicious, especially with just the slightest hint of thyme added to it. And second, I get to talk about one of my favorite Vermont businesses, whose raw honey and booze [yep, they do both] are rarely absent from my kitchen and liquor cabinet. We’ll talk more about this in a moment. I just wanted you to know that I’m psyched.)

red bartlett pears

First, let’s talk about the syrup. The idea for this came about when I was trying to figure out toppings for little untoasted bread slice appetizers. (Help me, what do smart people that know stuff call these? Tartines?) I started envisioning feta and rosemary, then honey and walnuts. As I flipped through The Flavor Bible to confirm my choices, my eyes settled on the bold, all caps PEARS under the walnuts section, and I instantly became obsessed with creating a combination of pears, walnuts, and honey. Since I’m not big on the texture of pears, I decided an infused honey syrup was the way to go.

red bartlett pears

I prepared the honey syrup the evening before and let it steep overnight in the fridge. (It smelled and tasted so good on Saturday night, and even better on Sunday.) Things went slightly awry when I looked at my jar of walnuts on the shelf and wondered, “hmmm……when did I buy those?” I opened up the jar, smelled them, then tasted a couple, and something about the aroma immediately brought me back to the many days I spent hanging out at my dad’s workshop after school as a kid. I googled “can walnuts go bad?” and quickly found something that stated “if your walnuts taste like paint thinner, they’re rancid.” Bye bye walnuts. I opted for bacon instead, which made for a FAR superior appetizer anyhow. (FYI: I highly recommend cooking up some bacon, covering it in this syrup, and feasting on it like there’s no tomorrow. You will die of happiness.)

raw honey

Between the appetizers, the bottles of champagne that no longer had citrus juices to accompany them (um yeah, pear-honey syrup + champagne — do that), and my decision that nearly everything I was making could be improved with a splash of syrup, the stuff disappeared quickly. I knew that I needed to make it again ASAP so I could tell you guys all about it, and that I wanted to showcase it in a cocktail. And my thoughts immediately turned to The Bee’s Knees and Caledonia Spirits.

Caledonia Spirits Barr Hill Gin

Back at the end of February, Josh of Post Prohibition (one of my favorite drink blogs) did a post on Caledonia Spirits, and I was so psyched to see a favorite Vermont business of mine making its way into other states and getting props for being super freakin’ awesome. But that excitement also made me wonder why I’ve never given them a proper showcasing here. That was something in need of remedying.

raw honey

I first discovered Caledonia Spirits at the Burlington winter farmers’ market in 2011, after my friend Mara asked me if I’d tried the amazing vodka from one of the new winter market vendors. To which I replied, “No…… And there’s gin too, you say? Interesting……” I made it my first order of business to find them at the next market, and happily waited and listened while Todd recounted to another couple his tales of beekeeping and branching out into elderberry syrup, then into meads and spirits. Once the couple had bought their bottles and moved on, he enthusiastically offered me samples. (These are the people that offer you samples of vodka and gin and wine at 9:00am, and you say yespleaseandthankyou. End of story.)

raw honey

The Caledonia Spirits Barr Hill gin and vodka are both infused with raw honey, and are so, so darn smooth and delicious. Their vodka has become my vodka of choice, as vodka, by nature, is really just there to punch up the booziness of a drink while letting the rest of the flavors of the drink come through. It’s honestly something that I could probably drink on the rocks with a little splash of something else, and that’s saying a whole lot, as I am not really a vodka gal. And their gin……oh, their gin. It is a beautiful little spirit. It works splendidly for even the most delicate gin-based drinks as it plays very well with other subtle flavors, rather than burying them with prominent juniper overtones. For this version of The Bee’s Knees, it was perfect.

Caledonia Spirits Barr Hill Gin

If you’re curious, you can purchase their spirits in VT, MA, NY (NYC, Hudson Valley, and Long Island), NJ, DE, MD, Washington D.C., and Japan (!). Their meads can be found only in VT and MA. If you don’t happen to live in one of these areas, you can also purchase them online through a number of vendors. And to read more about their history (which I barely grazed the surface of), you can read Todd’s story here. (I also want to note that this isn’t some sort of promo gimmick. I just really, really love these guys.)

The Bee's Knees

Now, let’s talk about this cocktail! The Bee’s Knees is a classic cocktail made with gin, honey syrup, and lemon juice. While it is quite tasty as is, the pear-infused honey syrup definitely brought it to the next level. I also decided to throw a couple sprigs of thyme into the second batch of syrup I made, as I thought it might work well to add just a hint of herbal complexity to the syrup, especially when pairing it with gin. And it did.


I highly, highly recommend using raw honey for the honey syrup. (If you happen to have really bad allergies, however, be careful of local raw honey, as raw honey will often have traces of pollen in it. While some people do take very small doses of local raw honey to build up their tolerance to the local pollen, it’s also possible that it could trigger a reaction in larger amounts. So just keep that in mind.) But the flavor of raw honey is absolutely wonderful, and it worked so well with the pear and a subtle hint of thyme. I used the Caledonia honey as well (since they give you a free jar if you buy two bottles of anything — win!), and the end result was a delightful little drink.

The Bee's Knees

Thyme-Kissed Pear-Infused Honey

1 pear, diced

1/2 cup of honey

1/2 cup of water

2 sprigs of thyme

Add water and honey to a heavy saucepan and heat over low heat. Once honey has dissolved (raw honey is usually pretty thick), add the pear and the thyme. Stir for a moment, then cover and remove from heat. Let steep for half an hour, then remove the thyme sprigs. Cover again and let sit until cool. Transfer to a jar and let sit in the fridge overnight. The next day, strain syrup through a cheesecloth-lined sieve. (Don’t throw out those pear bits! Use them for something……anything. I put them in a blueberry pie I made on Easter, and it was awesome.)

The Bee’s Knees

2 oz. gin

3/4 oz. pear-infused honey syrup

1/2 oz. lemon juice (you can actually bring this up to 3/4 if you want more citrus, but I dialed it back to taste the gin and the honey syrup)

lemon twist

Add gin, honey syrup, and lemon juice to a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake well. Strain into a coupe glass and add the lemon twist. (I, unfortunately, don’t own coupe glasses. But small martini glasses worked great as a substitute.)

The Bee's Knees


  1. says

    This looks fabulous. Pears are my absolute favorite, so I can just imagine this cocktail being top-notch. I am going to try this out!

    Also, re: little mini toasts, do you mean crostini? That’s all I’ve got.

    • says

      Thanks, Leah!

      And thank you also for addressing my issue with those bread appetizers! :) They’re untoasted, which is where I’m getting hung up, since I think crostini are toasted. I think that tartines might be the right word, but I’m not positive.

  2. says

    The flavor Bible is my go to for clarifying my ideas which at times may sound weird! This drink is a winner and I love the mood you set in your photos. Thyme is one of my fav fresh herb and i love mixing it around with food and drinks!

    • says

      Thanks, Kankana! :) I didn’t discover how wonderful thyme was until a few years ago when I started growing it in my garden on a whim. I wound up putting it on and in everything, and now it’s one of my favorites. And that Flavor Bible — I don’t know where I’d be without it!

  3. says

    What a drink! I’m slowly waking up to the charms of gin, and that syrup sounds so good I could eat it plain. It was fun to read this post because I’ll be featuring a small simple syrup company from Maine on my blog next week and making a cocktail with one of their signature products. I’ll have to check out Caledonia Spirits, and since I’m in CA, thank god for online shopping!

    • says

      Yes! Gin was something I shunned for a while (thanks to memories of people drinking cheap gin in college and then smelling like boozy Christmas trees). But once I started trying it out here and there, it quickly became a favorite of mine. This reminded me that you did that really pretty cardamom rose cocktail post the other day! If you like Hendrick’s, I think you’ll love the Caledonia Spirits gin too. :)

  4. says

    Okay, so this just made me 100,000% positive that I am going to love Vermont SO MUCH. Gin! Raw honey! These are the best bits of life. And holy moly, girl, these photos are beautiful! I love the one of the thyme hanging over the weight. Also, this sounds really, really delicious.

    P.S I have the same thing about the texture of pears, too! It’s the weird sandiness of the flesh that just irritates my mouth a little. They have to be really ripe for me to be able to eat them straight, but I do love the flavor of them! Which is why I am so very intrigued by this delicious sounding cocktail…

    • says

      Yes!! Vermont is such an awesome state with so many great things (food and otherwise), and I’m so psyched that you get to visit. And we will totally be doing some Caledonia sampling at my place when you’re here. :D (And that thyme photo was my fav from the bunch!)

      Pears have that same mealy texture that also kept me away from stone fruits for a really long time. But once I realized I needed to overlook the texture and start figuring out other ways to use their delicious flavors, it’s kind of felt like a whole new world! (Also, Stephanie mentioned [below] that putting pears in the fridge and eating them chilled helps the texture out a lot — I’d definitely like to try that.)

  5. says

    What a gorgeous drink! You know, I used to not love the texture of pears but I find that if you stick them in the fridge and eat them chilled, they hold up better and don’t have that gritty, wateriness that you often find with pears. Also! Last winter I made candied bacon (which pretty much means dousing the heck out of it with crap-loads of brown sugar and baking until they’re singed and crispy) and it was the highlight of the evening. So incredibly easy and delightfully sinful. :)

    • says

      Thanks, Stephanie! :D I’m totally going to try that pear-in-fridge trick. I love the flavor of pears, and I’ve always opted to buy asian pears in the past, since they’re more apple-like, texture-wise. And yuusssss candied bacon! There’s a local restaurant that used to serve bacon-candied almonds (I don’t believe they do anymore, but I might be wrong about that), and they were so ridiculously delicious. If I started candying bacon at home, things would definitely get out of hand. :)

    • says

      Thanks, Autumn! I’d really love to make it out to their distillery sometime. I took a trip out to visit a friend that was attending Sterling College last summer. We drove by the distillery at one point, and I gazed longingly out the window. :)

  6. says

    Looks phenomenal, Carey. I chuckled at the fact that you googled the shelf life of walnuts… I google all sorts of things that would be totally embarrassing if people knew that I didn’t know.

    Also, I love love raw honey; I used to hate it because my mom never cooked with processed sugar, so EVERYTHING was made with honey and had that distinctly “honeyed” taste. But now, ah. It’s splendid.

    • says

      Thanks, Tia! I totally questioned for a moment whether or not I should admit that I had to google the shelf life of walnuts, but then I decided to just go with it. :)

      I know how OD-ing on honey goes. I went through a phase where I was putting it in everything (even my coffee), and I eventually hit a point where I couldn’t deal with it at all anymore. But I gave it a break, and now I’m back to loving it again too!

  7. says

    This is all things that I love. All things! Except walnuts. After a recent nut overload (did I just say that?!) I decided that walnuts are my least favorite of all the nuts. But that gin. Why don’t we have this delicious elixir in Maine?! How absurd. If I ever get to Vermont, I best try to find some. Speaking of delicious elixir…raw honey is kind of hard to come by around here, also. And it’s one of my favorite things! There’s a guy at our farmers market on rare occasion who sells raw honey, but winter means I don’t go to the farmers market.

    Everything you do on your blog makes me swoon!!

    • says

      Nut overload! Bwahahahaha.

      I was totally thinking about you when I wrote this post, because you would LOVE these guys. Bees are Todd’s passion, and he’s been working with them ever since he was young. Definitely check out the About page on their site — I think you will love his story. :)

      Also, I can’t believe raw honey is so hard to come by up there! What a bummer. I guess I just assumed it was all over the northeast, since it seems to be in ample supply here and in my NY hometown (and those are pretty much the only two places I go). :P

      And I have to say that I’m glad those walnuts were bad, because I really don’t know what I was thinking when I decided they needed to go into that appetizer. I mean, walnuts vs. bacon — really? They are far from the most delicious nuts in my opinion too. (Although I will admit that I’ve actually started to really enjoy them in brownies, which was something I hated when I was a kid. This makes me feel a little like an old lady.)

  8. says

    Sigh, this inspires me so much. I love it when people reinterpret the classics. I also love any opportunity to pull out The Flavor Bible. It’s like the ultimate form of riffing—tossing in complementary flavors (I jump at the bolded AND starred suggestions), stirring things around, tasting, adjusting. Really really enjoyable.

    I also know for a fact that honey and thyme are wonderful together from the time I made honey thyme ice cream (seems like a distant dream now), but the pear must send it over the edge! Especially since I love the taste of pear, but dislike its texture. A big win on this one! (Hmm, you’ve got me thinking about a pear-flavored bubbly beverage of some sort. Must investigate this train of thought.)

    Thanks for the Caledonia Spirits reco as well! It’s great when people tell me what to buy, because otherwise I’m a total loss in the liquor store. It was better in California, because grocery stores were allowed to sell liquor. I hate being the only one in the store, circling it over and over and growing increasingly flustered and overwhelmed. I usually default to one of the well-known labels and get the hell out, hahaha.

    • says

      I remember finding that honey-thyme ice cream on your site in the middle of winter, and falling in love with how good it sounded! (Thank you for reminding me, because I need to make sure that happens this summer.) And the pear worked so well with both of them. It’s a combination that I will be repeating in many ways. And yes! Pear + champagne (or anything else bubbly, but especially champagne). So tasty.

      That is so crazy (and awesome) that you can buy liquor in a grocery store in CA! We have wine and beer in grocery stores in VT, but liquor is separate. After I moved to VT, I would go into the office once a month and then crash at a good friend’s place, and we’d do a wine and feast night. We’d be gathering everything at the store and I’d say, “OK, now where’s the wine sect….goddamnit, this is New York.” (But at least it’s not as bad as PA. I took a trip to Philly while I was in college with my boyfriend at the time. We got in really late and all we wanted to do was grab a six-pack and drink a couple beers at the hotel, and we were utterly mystified as to why the grocery stores and gas stations only had non-alcoholic beer. Finally someone informed us that we had to buy beer from a specialty shop, or directly from a bar [they sold six-packs]. Madness.) But you can probably get your hands on some Caledonia stuff in NYC, and you should definitely check it out! I wish their wines were available in more states. Their elderberry-honey mead is to die for.

  9. says

    Thanks for the kind words. I love and follow your creations as well. What a great twist on the Bee’s Knees. Perfect riff with that syrup. I’ll have to give this a shot. And of coures, always fantastic photography.

    • says

      Thanks, Josh! And thank you as well for the inspiration to put together a Caledonia Spirits post myself. I was definitely overdue on that front. :)

  10. says

    You might not know this, but I have a lasting obsession with covering toast with pecan butter, maple syrup and some maldon, and then eating it all in a few seconds. I love it. (and literally just ate a slice about 10 minutes ago…). Unfortunately, I have managed to churn my way trough like 3 bottles of maple syrup in a matter of a few months :/ BUT NOW, I CAN MAKE THIS SYRUP. Oh man, I can just tell it would be AMAZING. SO going to do it. yesssssssssssssss. (Um yes and now you’ve also made me want to put bacon on it too….hmm actually that sounds incredible. Crap now I want more toast.)

    • says

      Oh man, that combo sounds SO GOOD. Holy cow. I bet it would be awesome with the honey syrup too! The only thing that’s kind of weird about it is it’s a bit more watery and less syrup-y, which makes it great for cocktails, but not covering every little square inch of something in excess (which is what I also want to do with it). But I bet if you used less water, it would be better. Sooo awesome with bacon. :D

  11. Corrine Ann says

    Yep! Love this, all of this. I’ve been spooning honey to appease my allergies lately – I get mine from a beekeeper friend in So BTV… but have to get my hands on some of this caledonia honey. The gin is delightful and has had a permanent spot on my liquor shelf since my first taste this past Summer, so I can only imagine the raw honey is just as delicious!

    • says

      Ooo! How has that been working out for your allergies? My boyfriend has been toying with the idea of trying it, since his can get pretty bad. I think maybe you have to start taking it a good amount of time in advance, though, to build up a tolerance before allergy season hits? He may have missed the boat on that one this year. :)

  12. says

    Carey, not only are your photos gorgeous, but this drink and the syrup are making me drool! I was just checking out the raw honey at a local health food store the other day. I didn’t get it. I figured I’d read up on it…I know nothing about it. I may run down there today and get a jar to make this!

    • says

      Thank you, Caroline! :) Raw honey is definitely worth checking out. I’ve always thought that it tasted a lot more floral and flavorful than you average run-of-the-mill honey bear stuff. I gave my brother some for his tea today to help him fight off the remnants of a cold, and he swore it was the best honey he’d ever had!

  13. Alex says

    This looks stunning! I’m definitely trying it, and may see if I can get my hands on this gin, as it sounds like they sell in my area. Do you refrigerate the syrup once it’s made?

  14. MK says

    I have pear trees laden with fat pears right now and am looking for new ways to use pears. I will try this cocktail.

    I made pear jelly a couple of times using the flavors of pear, lemon, and rosemary. It was wonderful. I bet the combo of pear, lemon, rosemary, gin, and honey would be another delicious alternative. Wow, that might make a nice cordial. Oh and sage with fruit is Kabang too! It is great with a bit of chopped sage mixed into watermelon chunks then chilled for a few hours. I bet that combo could be the inspiration for a cocktail too.


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