Inspiration Behind KOVAL’s Award-Winning Honey Liqueur

KOVAL is on a mission to elevate liqueurs. Dr. Sonat Birnecker Hart, the distillery’s president and co-founder, knew with just a little inspiration and innovation, she could create a more desirable liqueur for bartenders and consumers to enjoy. The secret? Honey!  

What was the inspiration behind this liqueur, and who came up with the recipe?

My husband, Dr. Robert Birnecker, and I originally decided we wanted to create a honey liqueur that was imbued with some sort of floral element. We decided to go with chrysanthemum flowers because they have been traditionally paired with honey in parts of Asia. We also liked the herbaceous element coming from the chrysanthemum, juxtaposed with the golden sweetness from the honey.

To a casual spirit drinker, how would you describe this liqueur in less than 10 words?

A great aperitif and unique sugar alternative for cocktails.

What do you enjoy most about this liqueur?

The rich honey flavor comes through beautifully and adds a pleasant mouthfeel. It also has a lovely aroma, paired with floral elements of the chrysanthemum – it could easily be a beautiful, delicate perfume.

What role (does honey play in this liqueur?

Honey is not only essential to flavor identity of this liqueur, it is also an important marketing element. We have noticed a desire amongst mixologists to use our Chrysanthemum & Honey Liqueur in cocktails in place of simple syrup or sugar. This is both because honey lends more character to a drink than sugar, and in our liqueur, its marriage with chrysanthemum flowers creates a flavor profile that is fun to work with paired with different base alcohols.

What do you enjoy most about using honey in the capacity of distilling?

Honey is a fabulous ingredient for distilled spirits because it comes with both sweetness and a variety of flavors depending on its origin. It pairs well with a a range of base alcohols – from rum to whiskey to gin – and lends itself to both the flavor and aroma of the finished product.

To see a full list of our 2018 Honey Spirits Competition, visit