It’s no coincidence that September is National Honey Month, as it marks the traditional end of the honey-collection season. Originally announced by the National Honey Board in 1989, the month has gotten a boost in recent years, thanks to the growth of backyard beekeeping and the increasing awareness of climate and pesticide-based threats to bee colonies.

While there’s lots to love about honey, including numerous possible health benefits, its unsurpassed role in contemporary cocktail culture is worth celebrating alone. Both sweetener and thickener, honey is naturally low in pH — generally around 3.9, depending on the type of honey — making it about as acidic as orange juice. That helps it pair exceptionally well with all citrus fruits, balancing its sweetness with just a touch of acidity. As such, it’s a natural choice for mixing with Ketel One Vodka, whose rich citrus and honey notes are loved by fans and industry pros alike. Distilled from 100 percent European wheat, Ketel One is made on a combination of modern column and traditional pot stills, including the distillery’s original, coal-fired copper pot still dating from the 19th century, Distilleerketel #1, from which it takes its name.

The following honey-based recipes all use honey syrup, easily made by mixing 3 parts honey with 1 part water over low heat and stirring until combined. In the refrigerator, this honey syrup will keep for up to a week.

With so many awareness months on the calendar, it’s easy to overlook one or another. But think of it this way: Without bees, agriculture as we know it would collapse, with roughly 70 out of 100 human food crops pollinated by bees. About 30 percent of all U.S. agricultural output is dependent on bees, according to the USDA.

Do your part this month. Drink up.

Original Sin

Smooth and silky, this elegant sipper plays on the natural acidity of honey, displaying graceful aromatic notes thanks to its absinthe rinse and its garnish of fragrant star anise.

Ingredients

1 1/2 ounces Ketel One Vodka
1 bar spoon absinthe
1/2 ounce sake
1 1/2 bar spoons honey syrup
star anise, for garnish

Directions

Add absinthe to a cocktail glass, swirl to coat the glass, and pour out excess.
Add Ketel One Vodka, sake, honey syrup, and ice to a cocktail shaker or mixing glass.
Stir until well chilled.
Strain into cocktail glass.
Add star anise garnish and serve.

Strawberry Fields

What looks like a straightforward strawberry cooler shows off unexpected complexity, thanks to honey syrup and the additions of rich balsamic vinegar and freshly ground black pepper just before serving.

Ingredients

2 small ripe strawberries
1 1/2 ounces Ketel One Vodka
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/2 ounce honey syrup
1/2 ounce pasteurized egg whites
1 large ripe strawberry, for garnish
Balsamic vinegar, for garnish
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

Muddle strawberries in a cocktail shaker.
Add Ketel One Vodka, lemon juice, honey syrup, egg white, and ice. Shake vigorously.
Strain mix into the shaker and dry shake mixture, without ice.
Strain mixed spirits into chilled cocktail serving glass.
Garnish with a large sliced strawberry, five drops of balsamic vinegar, freshly ground black pepper, and serve.

Bucket List

Genepi liqueur, rosemary and lemon accentuated by honey syrup boasts flavor in this outside-the-ordinary recipe.
Genepi liqueur, rosemary, and lemon accentuated by honey syrup boasts flavor in this outside-the-ordinary recipe.

Genepi liqueur, an herb-infused cousin of absinthe, provides chamomile-like aromatic notes that are echoed by a rosemary garnish and accentuated by honey syrup in this outside-the-ordinary recipe.

Ingredients

1 1/2 ounces Ketel One Vodka
1 ounce French genepi liqueur
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
1 ounce honey syrup
Rosemary sprig, for garnish

Directions

Add Ketel One Vodka, genepi, lemon juice, honey syrup, and ice to a cocktail shaker and shake until well chilled.
Strain mixed spirits into chilled cocktail serving glass.
Garnish with rosemary sprig and serve.

Berry Honey Smash

An ode to the goodness of Mother Nature, fresh berries and honey make this sweet-and-sour cocktail a refreshing option for a sweet weekend brunch. Pass the pancakes!

Ingredients

1 1/2 ounces Ketel One Vodka
2 raspberries
1 medium strawberry, stem removed
1 teaspoon blackberry jam
1/2 ounce lemon juice
1/2 ounce honey syrup
Sugar, for rim
Fresh berries, for garnish

Directions

Rim a cocktail glass with sugar.
Muddle raspberries and the strawberry in a cocktail shaker.
Add Ketel One Vodka, blackberry jam, lemon juice, honey syrup, and ice to shaker and shake until well chilled.
Strain into sugar-rimmed serving glass.
Skewer fresh berries as garnish and serve.

Vodka Gold Rush

Call it a Fake Gold Rush, a vodka Bee’s Knees, or think of it as a honey-laced take on a classic vodka sour. This riff on several well-loved cocktail recipes boasts a lusciously smooth texture, thanks to its honey syrup, backed up by plenty of citrus bite.

Ingredients

1 1/2 ounces Ketel One Vodka
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
3/4 ounce honey syrup
Lemon wheel and Maraschino cherry, for garnish

Directions

Add Ketel One Vodka, fresh lemon juice, honey syrup, and ice to a cocktail shaker.
Shake vigorously until chilled.
Strain mixed spirits into a chilled serving glass.
Skewer lemon wheel and Maraschino cherry, garnish, and serve.

Appily Married

The citrus, fruit and honey notes make this the ideal fall cocktail of choice.
The citrus, fruit, and honey notes make this the ideal fall cocktail of choice.

The citrus, fruit, and honey notes of Ketel One Vodka are amplified by grapefruit juice, apple juice and honey syrup in this overlooked modernist classic. If you don’t have pre-mixed cinnamon sugar, make your own with a 2:1 sugar-to-cinnamon ratio.

Ingredients

1 1/2 ounces Ketel One Vodka
1/2 ounce apple juice
1/2 ounce pink grapefruit juice
2 bar spoons honey syrup
Cinnamon sugar, for rim

Directions

Chill a cocktail glass and coat the rim with cinnamon sugar.
Add Ketel One Vodka, apple juice, pink grapefruit juice, honey syrup, and ice to a cocktail shaker.
Shake until well chilled.
Strain into cocktail glass and serve.

This article is sponsored by Ketel One.