While I was reading Sappho a few things happened. One: the weather here in Boston fell from the sticky and suffocating nineties to the just moderately sweaty eighties, and the leaves, parched as they are from an unusually dry summer, began to crisp and shrivel. We had (I think?) finally begun easing into fall. Two: we celebrated Rosh Hashanah: I baked a challah—this one—and tried to come up with lots of ways to use the absurd amount of heirloom apples I bought.
The convergence of these experiences infused today’s cocktail, a pretty little number called the Honeyvoice, whose blend of Buffalo Trace bourbon, apple brandy, bitters, and honey syrup is a nice September drink, a bit of light and sweet for the summer, somewhat spicy and nutty for the fall—and with the honey and apples, a perfect Rosh Hashanah aperitif.
The drink’s name came from Sappho’s fragment 185, which is simply: honeyvoiced. It was inspired, though, by Fragment 2, which reads:
translated by Anne Carson
here to me from Krete to this holy temple
where your graceful grove
of apple trees and altars smoking
And in it cold water makes a clear sound through
apple branches and with roses the whole place
is shadowed and down from radiant-shaking leaves
sleep comes dropping.
And in it a horse meadow has come into bloom
with spring flowers and breezes
like honey are blowing
In this place you Kypris taking up
in gold cups delicately
nectar mingled with festivities:
The Honeyvoice isn’t the first cocktail on the site to use honey syrup, if you’d like to try it in something a bit more herbal, I’d recommend the Gardener. It’s also not the first to apple brandy, so if you’re looking for another option there, try the Diamondback—which pairs the apple brandy with rye. Indeed, this is a more traditional pairing, and one you should use if you can’t get your hands on Buffalo Trace bourbon, which is sweeter and a bit more fruity than most.
from The Essential Cocktail
1 part water
1 part honey
In a saucepan, warm the water. Take the pan off the head and add the honey. Stir to combine. Keeps for up to a week in the refrigerator.
1 ½ ounces apple brandy (I recommend Laird’s bonded for this if you can find it)
1 ounce Buffalo Trace bourbon (this is an especially apple-y bourbon, if you don’t have it, substitute with rye)
1 ounce honey syrup
Hard dash angostura bitters
Add all ingredients to an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Stir. Strain into a ‘gold cup’ — or an iced coupe, whatever you have on hand.