JC’s Bear Champ

Freddie Sarkis

The Gwen, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Chicago

“The JC Bear Champ cocktail pays homage to a local street artist, JC Rivera. JC is known for his Bear Champ mural of a honey-colored bear turned boxer. From the art piece came the idea to use honey and tea as ingredients. As JC’s Bear Champ is a public piece of art, I thought it would make the most sense to have the cocktail served in a sharable drink format.” —Freddie Sarkis


Honey–Earl Grey Syrup:

  • 1 liter water
  • 5 Earl Grey tea bags
  • 1 liter honey
  • 1 liter white sugar

JC’s Bear Champ:

  • 3 ounces Maker’s Mark Bourbon
  • 3 ounce Sacred Bond Brandy
  • 3 ounces honey–Earl Grey syrup
  • 3 ounces grapefruit juice
  • 2 ounce lemon juice
  • 3 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • Honeycomb sticks for garnish


Make the honey–Earl Grey syrup: in a pot, bring the water to a bowl. Add the tea bags and let steep for 20 minutes. Remove the tea bags. Stir in the honey and sugar and mix until the sugar has melted and the syrup is well combined. (Note: you may need to heat the tea over low heat to fully melt the sugar.) Let cool.

Make the cocktail: add all ingredients into a cocktail shaker. Shake and strain into a honey bear (or a pitcher). Serve with crushed ice in rocks glasses garnished with the honeycomb sticks.


2 to 4 people