Honey is the key ingredient in humanity’s oldest alcoholic beverage, Mead.
Mix honey with water, introduce almost any kind of yeast and allow it to ferment. You’ll get delicious honey wine. Mead can range in alcohol and sweetness levels greatly. It can be still or sparkling. Mead is traditionally mixed with flowers, spices, fruit or wine grapes. The oldest written records of mead consumption go back to the early Vedic Period, in 1700 BC. Archaeological evidence goes back to over 4000 years ago.
Want to taste some of that history today?
Calgary has a fantastic local Meadery, just west of Airdrie, called Fallentimber Meadery. They produce both sweet and dry meads. Some are oaked. Some infused with fruit or hops. All of them are definitely worth trying.
They’ve even restored an ancient beverage called Pyment, which traditionally came from making a honey wine from wine grapes and honey. Pyment is the Hungarian standard for discerning the term Mead from Honey Wine, which they feel the latter falls under. Since Hungarians established the worlds first Appellation of Control (AOC) in 1730 we will defer to their standards.
Honey as a sweetener for cocktails has a tremendous history.
The Hot Toddy. Brown Derby. Penicillin. Gold Rush. Bee’s Knees.
There is no other sweetener quite like honey and it’s influence on the flavor of cocktails containing it are unmistakable.
Arguably, the most noted classic cocktail produced with honey is the prohibition-era Bees Knees (slang for ‘The Ultimate‘). This #3ingredient banger made with gin, honey and fresh lemon juice. It’s said that the honey and citrus covered the taste of terrible ‘bathtub’ gin. But the drink survived because it is a balanced, simple and distinct cocktail. For a fun twist on this cocktail we infuse our honey with Scrappy’s Lavender Bitters.
To make a Gold Rush cocktail, simply sub Bourbon for the gin. Sub out lemon juice for grapefruit juice in a Gold Rush and you have a Brown Derby.
Bees Knees with Lavender
Combine ingredients in a stirring vessel or a shaker. Add ice and shake or stir. Strain neat into a chilled coupé and express lemon oil over top of the drink. Modulate the drink according to the three primary ingredients. Most variations are absolutely delicious.