If You Haven’t Tried Mead, You’re Missing Out
How the ancient beverage, now brewed in Brooklyn, is making a richly flavored comeback
By Angelica Frey
Brooklyn, New York – It seems fitting that a beverage right out of Game of Thrones would be called Dagger. The richly toned red beverage is a boldly flavored mead, redolent of tart cherry, yarrow, chamomile, and foraged hemlock. Mead is having a moment, if a beverage with a history in many cultures going back to around 6,500 BC can be considered a trendy concoction. Made by fermenting honey, water and yeast with the addition of fruits, flowers and herbs, the ancient beverage shows up in classics like Canterbury Tales and Beowulf. Even the word honeymoon has roots in the mead tradition.
In Brooklyn, always open to reinventing old standards, mead has found a welcoming audience. You can buy a bottle of Dagger ($35) right where it’s made, at Enlightenment Wines, at 93 Scott Ave. in Bushwick. Or try it in a cocktail at Honey’s, the meadery’s tasting room and full bar, open less than a year. “Business has been great. We’ve been happily surprised at how easily meads integrate into a high-quality bar program,” says co-founder Raphael Lyon.
Enlightenment has sold much of its supply to high-end restaurants, including Agern in Manhattan, but new meads are aging in 17 barrels stored in the meadery. Mead-based cocktails are the foundation of Honey’s cocktail menu, with mixologist and business partner Arley Marks, formerly at Mission Chinese, at the helm. “He was excited about what I was doing,” says Lyon, “because I introduced all these new flavors, plants and fruits that he could build cocktails out of.” Lyon said. The Dagger is very fragrant, strong. We drink it straight, and we also make a Martinez,” a kind of cross between a Manhattan and a martini. Enlightenment is brewing other spirits as well, including a dandelion wine. “It’s a bitter, drunk as a tonic in New England,” says Lyon. “It makes a great brunch spritz.”
Full Story: If You Haven’t Tried Mead, You’re Missing Out
Meadery Profile: Enlightenment Wines