I never watched the Big Bang Theory. But, people used to tell me that I looked like Sheldon Cooper from the show. I don’t really see it, but sometimes you just have to lean into it. So, I created a cocktail and used Sheldon’s catchphrase for the title.
To me, this drink is way more than a word from a TV show that I never watched. This is one of three drinks that greatly impacted my bartending journey.
What is a Bazinga?
Bazinga is a refreshing dessert cocktail made with only two ingredients: St. Germain and Jim Beam Honey. The two components introduce flavors of honey, pear, and tropical fruit and make a balanced beverage.
Why is Called a Bazinga?
What seems like many years ago, 2010, I was just a server at a local family restaurant. And sometimes I would bartend at the owner’s other restaurant, a high-end steakhouse.
One night at the family restaurant, a group of regulars called me Sheldon. I had no idea what they were talking about. I never watched the Big Bang Theory.
They said I looked a lot like the character since I was tall and slender, and I had a very similar haircut at the time. I still didn’t watch the show but understood the reference when other people would tell me the same thing. I’d just smile and nod and go on my way.
Fast forward to 2013.
It was my second year competing in the Iowa Restaurant Association’s Mixology Championships. My first year was a good learning experience, and I used that education to prepare.
The event requires competitors to create three cocktails using assigned liquors. Jim Beam Honey was one of the three. The other two were a tequila that I do not remember and Pearl Vodka.
I remember I was struggling the most with the Jim Beam. I had no idea what direction I wanted to go with it. I still didn’t have my concept either from the competition.
I took a step back, looking for a theme to tie all of my drinks together. At this time, I was working full-time as a bartender at the high-end steakhouse and started to see how the chef created the meals to tell a story.
From the first course to dessert, the food took patrons on a journey. I know it sounds a little corny, but I took the idea and ran with it. That’s when things got a lot easier.
I decided to make cocktail courses. I knew the tequila drink I had created would be great as an “appetizer,” and the vodka would be the “main course.” This left Jim Beam Honey for the “dessert.”
Chef David had a book that listed ingredients and flavor pairings. At the time, I was using this book regularly when I was creating new cocktails for the menu. So I looked up honey to see what I could come up with.
I remember seeing pear listed, and that really intrigued me. But, I couldn’t get the pear flavor I wanted to come through in the drink. I tried adding a pear vodka, a pear liqueur, and even made a pear puree. I wasn’t happy with any of these combinations. But that’s when I got an idea.
I looked at the bottle of St. Germain and knew it had that pear quality I was looking for. I had thought about it before, but three things were holding me back.
- I had read some articles online that said St. Germain was best with clear liquors and hardly ever used in dark liquors.
- My friends/co-workers always gave me crap because I used St. Germain in pretty much everything.
- St. Germain is a sweet liqueur, and Jim Beam Honey is pretty sweet by itself. I didn’t want to make a sickeningly sweet cocktail.
But I tried it anyway. You never know, right?
I had no idea what ratios to use because a little goes a long way with St. Germain when you pair it with clear liquors. So I decided to do equal parts of the honey and the elderflower liqueur.
I was floored. It was amazing! Better than anything else I had tried to come up with for my dessert course. There was so much flavor, and it was so light and refreshing for being two ingredients.
Mostly since both of them were spirits. I made everyone at work try the drink, and everyone agreed that I should use it for the competition.
All that was left was a name. And I’m not great at coming up with names. After asking a friend, Isaac said, “What about Bazinga?” Because for the past two years, people had been telling me that I looked like Sheldon Cooper.
And Sheldon uses “Bazinga!” to cheer himself on after a personal victory. The victory in this scenario was finally having all three drinks ready for my competition.
I hope you enjoy this cocktail as a nightcap, dessert, or anytime cocktail.
Remember, don’t let the rules tell you things can’t be mixed. When making cocktails to try anything you can think of. It might turn out really bad. But you never know when something is going to be, Bazinga!