What idiot came up with the old proverb, “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar”? Wouldn’t you want to kill flies rather than catch them? Why would anyone waste good sweet honey on such a stupid endeavor when everyone in their right mind knows you use honey to trap bears? Well, at least back in 15th century Prussia that’s what you did with your honey besides eat it. And of course, there’s way more to it than that.
I guess the next question that might logically follow would be, “What in the hell is this idiot talking about?” Well, I’m talking about Barenjager Honey Liqueur. Turns out this stuff was first concocted back in the 15th century in Prussia by the Teucke & Koenig Bear Trap Company. Well, these folks made the finest bear traps money could buy back then but the problem was getting that pesky, mean spirited and uncooperative bear to step into that fine trap. Turns out that bears really, really like honey and can smell it from miles away and are drawn to it, like well, flies to honey.
Bear trapping was one mighty dangerous occupation back then because guns hadn’t been invented yet and the Chinese were still reluctant to share gunpowder with anyone much less honey stealing, bear killing Prussians who didn’t speak Mandarin. The precarious nature of this endeavor along with long lonely days and night minding the trap in anticipation of a fight to the death with a pissed off bear really required either nerves of steel or nerves dulled with alcohol. Well, the wiley folks back at the Bear Trap Company figured that they could double or triple their profits if they made their bait more versatile and more desirable to both the bears and the bear trappers. They messed around with different ingredients until they finally came up with something they figured would appeal to the four legged animals as much as the two legged ones. It was called Mesohkinnes and was a mead like moonshine made from honey. Needless to say the bears really liked it because it dulled the pain from the traps and the hunters really liked it too as it dulled the pain and anxiety of their job. Sure enough, profits quickly tripled because the hunters began drinking the stuff even when they weren’t hunting.
Bärenjäger means “bear hunter.” Bärenfang, another word used with this liqueur means “bear trap” and a Bärfingbag is what you’ll need if you drink too much of this stuff in one sitting. Today, this honey liqueur is based on vodka and 70 proof. They use the finest honey from Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Bärenjäger is always made with honey from nectar because honey from honeydew may have a bitter aftertaste as any married man who’s ever been given a honey do list will attest to.
The bottle simply screams honey. Honey colored woven straw wraps the bottle which is topped off by a plastic bee hive cap. The mostly yellow label shows a bear next to a bee hive with a drunken hunter stumbling through the nearby bushes.
WOW, opening the bottle I could immediately discern the distinct aroma of honey. This wasn’t some chemical, artificial odor but honest to goodness honey, exactly the same as you would smell opening that familiar, small plastic honey bear in your kitchen that contains pure honey that you bought at your supermarket. It also had the thick smell of the honeycomb. In the glass the intensity of the aroma pulled back to reveal a touch of alcohol and the liquid was thick and golden, again reminiscent of its origins. It was thick and syrupy on the tongue and tasted exactly like honey. The finish was smooth and, of course, honey sweet with a bit of alcohol tingle. It’s no wonder the bears and the trappers loved this stuff. I certainly wouldn’t sit around sipping this stuff straight, because it’s just too sweet, unless I found myself in a cold dark, dank forest freaked out of my mind as grunting bears circled in ever closer and closer. I tried some with hot tea and it elevated Earl Grey to a much closer friend. One morning after unsuccessfully trapping bears all night I poured it on a stack of pancakes and ate that along with a handful of bacon – yum. I most highly recommend the Killer Bee (recipe below) if you’re in your 20’s and bored with straight Jagermeister.
Those wiley Prussians really knew their bears and came up with some proverbs that still ring true even today. “Only chained bears dance.” This of course has numerous real life applications especially in today’s modern world. “Two bears don’t live in one cave.” That could very well apply to most couples today. And of course the ever popular “Who divides honey with the bear, will likely get the lesser share,” as one half of all divorcing couples will surely attest to.
In conclusion, I must concur with the insider insights provided by Suzie Schwartze and Sammy Schlichte one night after we successfully trapped several bears in downtown LA. Well, we had certainly gone through enough bottles of bear bait to have trapped several bears and whether we actually did or not still seems to be a bone of contention however their words still ring true:
“Bärenjäger, der traditionsreiche ostpreußische Bärenfang mit 35% vol., wird noch heute nach überlieferter ostpreußischer Rezeptur hergestellt. Dafür wird nur bester Honig aus der mexikanischen Halbwüsten-Provinz Yucatan verwendet, der für sein besonders kräftiges Aroma bekannt ist. Er wird nach einem aufwändigen Produktionsverfahren hergestellt, mit hochprozentigem Alkohol vermischt und zur Klärung und Aromaverstärkung mehrere Monate in Tanks gelagert. Bärenjäger enthält nur natürliche Zutaten, es werden keine Aromazusätze verwandt. Bärenjäger genießt man pur, über Eis-Dessert oder gemixt in heißem Tee, als Honig-Grog oder mit Milch.”
Really, couldn’t have said it any better myself. Try these out if you dare!
1 oz. Barenjager
1 oz. melon liqueur
pineapple juice to taste.
½ Shot Jagermeister
½ Shot of Barenjager.
By George Brozowski
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