Barenjager is a refined German honey liqueur that is made with vodka, honey, and additional secret ingredients. It is suitable for drinking straight-up, but mixologists love using it in cocktails. It adds a herbaceous, honey flavor and doubles as a simple syrup.
If you need a Barenjager substitute then we've got a range of options for any application.
What can I use to replace Barenjager?
If you need a Barenjager replacement in a cocktail then use Krupnik, Canyero Ron Miel, or The Dubliner. For a drink with less alcohol, try honey mead or use simple syrup and liquid honey for an alcohol-free mocktail.
Krupnik (also called Krupnikas) is a sweet Polish liquor that is made using honey and grain spirit. It has a dominant sweet, honey flavor and an additional warming spiciness from ingredients like cinnamon, cloves, vanilla, and orange.
For cocktails like Beestings, Old Fashioned’s, and Mint Juleps you'll find Krupnik tastes just as good. It replaces the need for adding simple syrup and has a dominant honey flavor, similar to Barenjager. Both drinks also have a similar golden color.
While different brands will range in alcohol content, you’ll find each type of liquor carries a similar punch.
2. Canyero Ron Miel
Canyero Ron Miel is a rum-based liqueur that comes from Spain. It is a delicious combination of Caribbean rum and honey and is the same golden color you’d get from Barenjager.
Canyero Ron Miel has a distinctive honeycomb flavor with the addition of nutmeg, cinnamon, and apricot. It’s a sweet drink but isn’t cloying – ideal poured into a glass with ice or combined with a mixer. Cocktails like Mojitos or any alcoholic drinks that call for a simple syrup can use this drink instead.
3. The Dubliner
For all the whiskey lovers, try The Dubliner Liqueur as a handy Barenjager substitute. It blends the taste of Irish whiskey with caramel and honeycomb.
While not as close a match as Krupnik, it is still a sweet, smooth whiskey liqueur ideal for sipping neat or stirring into cocktails like Penicillin.
4. Honey mead
Honey mead is a great choice for people who love the taste of honey and don’t want a strong drink. Mead is made by fermenting water, honey, and sometimes extras like spices, hops, and fruits.
You’ll find honey mead is much lower in alcohol than Barenjager. It usually ranges from less than 10% up to around 18%, although some brands will have a higher ABV.
While most bottles of honey mead have a sweet, honey flavor, they often have added tartness.
5. Honey bourbon
There are plenty of affordable bottles of honey bourbon on the market that’ll fill the shoes of Barenjager. Admittedly, the shoes won’t be a perfect fit, so use this option if you want something different.
Jack Daniel's Tennessee Honey has a 35% ABV and tastes of bourbon and honey. If you don’t like too much honey flavor, this could be a good choice as it’s more subtle than Barenjager. Also, it’s nowhere near as sweet so you may need to add a sweetener to balance out the cocktail.
Related reading: What's a good replacement for Jim Beam?
6. Simple syrup + honey
Are you looking for an alcoholic-free replacement for Barenjager? It takes a little extra work, but mixing honey into a simple syrup is perfect for your next mocktail. You can also use this option in cooking for flavoring sauces and marinades.
To make a simple syrup, add one cup of water and one cup of white sugar to a suitable jug. Microwave on high for two minutes or until the liquid is very hot. Stir until the sugar dissolves and you’ll have a simple syrup.
The final step is to add a quarter cup of honey while the liquid is hot so that it melts.
7. Cazcabel Honey Liqueur
Cazcabel is a popular brand of tequila from Jalisco, Mexico. They produce a honey liqueur that combines their Blanco tequila with 100% natural honey. It’s smoky and sweet, but predominantly honey-tasting.
While Cazcabel uses different spices and has a unique smoky undertone, it’s fine for cocktails that need a sweet, honey boost.
8. Make your own
Making your own lookalike Barenjager is easy. You won’t get the same complex depth of flavor and smoothness that comes from the original drink. However, anyone that wants a cheap alternative can easily make this recipe.
Prep time: 5 minutes. Cook time: 5 minutes
- 1 cup water
- 1 ⅓ cups honey
- 1 large piece of orange peel, pith removed.
- 2 sticks cinnamon
- 2 tsp whole cloves
- 3 cups vodka
- Add all ingredients to a saucepan and cook over a low heat stirring at regular intervals. Heat for 5 minutes or until the sugar has melted.
- Scrape off any foam that may have formed on the top of the mixture, then allow the liquid to cool.
- Strain out the orange zest, cinnamon, and cloves and discard. Pour the liquid into a large jar or bottle, along with the vodka. If you don’t have large jars, mix the vodka and syrup in a large bowl then transfer to several smaller bottles or jars.
- Allow to rest overnight for best results or serve immediately if you’re in a hurry.
Tip: You can use these vodka replacements if you don't have any at home.
Storage: Homemade honey liqueur can be stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator for 4-6 months.
Fast facts about Barenjager
- Alternative names include Meschkinnes, or bärenjäger. Bärenfang is the original German name which translates to “Bear Trap”.
- During production, honey from honeydew can cause the liqueur to have an unpleasant bitter aftertaste. Manufacturers use honey from nectar to solve this issue.
- The liqueur can be splashed around the inside of a glass before adding wine to get a makeshift mead.
- The original recipe for Barenjager is believed to date back to the 1400s. It was used to lure bears by fur traders.
- Although Barenjager has a similar name to Jagermeister they are not related in any way, except that they are both liqueurs that originated in Germany.
Barenjager is a popular option with bartenders who want to add sweet, honey flavor to drinks. Its high level of sweetness means you can avoid using simple syrup to sweeten a cocktail.
To replace Barenjager, you can use Krupnik, Canyero Ron Miel, or The Dubliner. A simple syrup combined with honey is a great substitute for people needing a no-alcohol ingredient for mocktails.
Although there are plenty of alternatives for Barenjager, your best option is to get the real thing if you can. It’s popular for good reason. Whether you choose to sip it neat or mix some into a cocktail, this liqueur is well worth your money.