From its well-documented appearances on the all-conquering Game of Thrones TV series to a growing general interest in traditional food and drink, there are many reasons why mead – according to some, the world’s oldest alcoholic beverage – has enjoyed a resurgence in recent years.
We’re going to devote this article to share a few ideas about how to incorporate this delicious, honey-flavoured drink into some fantastically mead-based cocktails.
But first, let’s take a quick look into what exactly is mead.
What is mead?
Mead is created by honey and water fermented with yeast, sometimes containing various fruits, spices, grains, or hops. It is believed that mead was essentially first discovered when accidentally some honey got wet.
When raw honey gets moisture into it, there is a chance that natural yeast will start a fermentation process that converts the sugar in honey into alcohol. Nowadays, the yeast used in mead making is often identical to that used in winemaking.
The earliest recorded evidence of mead’s existence dates from 7000 BC, where archaeologists discovered pottery vessels in northern China showing chemical signatures consistent with honey, rice, and organic compounds associated with fermentation.
Once the Vikings’ drink of choice, mead was also believed to improve health and prolong life. It has also long been rumoured to have aphrodisiac properties, so it was presented to newlyweds to enjoy during what we now call their “honeymoon”.
The alcoholic content of mead ranges from about 3.5% ABV to more than 18%. Mead may be still, carbonated, naturally sparkling, dry, semi-sweet, or sweet.
When the pubs closed due to Covid-19 restrictions, we’ve all had to become DIY mixologists, and, as you’ll see, this has given us the chance to expand our horizons and create some genuinely creative tipples.
Now, let us tempt you with some ideas on creating impressive cocktails using our extensive range of mead.
Our mead cocktails:
2. Blackberry Mead-Fashioned
3. Ransom Note
4. Fruity Mead Cocktail
5. Mjolnir Mojito
6. The Gentleman’s Gambit
7. Mead Mimosa
If you like getting caught in the rain (or even if you don’t), then this cocktail is sure to appeal.
60ml Traditional Mead
45ml Lugger Rum
2-3 dashes of Angostura orange bitters
Coconut water (sparkling if you can find it)
1 Pineapple ring
1) Mix the mead, rum, and bitters with some ice in a shaker, then make your best cocktail barman impression (we suggest growing a trendy moustache, putting on a waistcoat and looking oddly severe as you give it all a good shake).
2) Put a few ice cubes into a small tumbler and pour your mixture into it.
3) Top up the glass with coconut water and place a pineapple ring on top.
The addition of mead puts an exciting spin on this timelessly sophisticated American cocktail. Sipping it as you recline in the summer sun will make you feel like you’re a Viking-era Frank Sinatra…possibly.
45ml Black Cherry Mead
2 dashes of Angostura bitters
Orange peel (3 inches)
2 tbsp of honey syrup
1) Begin by preparing the honey syrup. Combine a quarter of a cup each of honey and water in a saucepan and heat gently for one minute. Then, strain it through a sieve and pop it in the fridge while preparing your other ingredients.
2) Put the orange peel, bitters, honey syrup and blackberries in a small tumbler. Then mix everything up well with a stirrer or spoon, making sure that the blackberries are well and truly mashed before moving on to the next step.
3) To finish, add the mead, bourbon, a splash of water and one ice cube. Take your spoon again and swirl the mixture around for 30 seconds or so before it’s ready.
We have to be honest with this one and admit that the recipe originated at the iconic Gramercy Tavern in New York, one of the Big Apple’s finest locations for enjoying delightful cocktails and elegant meals.
20ml Traditional Mead
60ml Lyme Bay Dry Gin
1.5 tbsp of honey syrup (see how to make in ‘Blackberry Mead-Fashioned’ recipe above)
Lemon juice (10ml)
1) Fish out your cocktail shaker from the back of the cupboard, dust it off, then fill it with ice and all the other ingredients.
2) Shake it all up, strain and serve – if you happen to have one, this cocktail is best served in a classic Martini glass.
Fruity Mead Cocktail
We all know how important eating healthily is for our general wellbeing – now more so than ever – and, with that in mind, why not have a go at this flavourful and fruity cocktail which also sneaks in a couple of your five-a-day? That’s our excuse for making it, anyway…
25ml Garden Mead
1 tbsp of Honey
1 Green apple
1) Add all but one of the blueberries, half the chopped apple, the mead, gin and honey to your cocktail shaker and shake away.
2) Pour the mixture into a large chalice or goblet-style glass if you have one.
3) Top with apple juice and garnish with the remaining blueberry and a slice of apple.
The word ‘Mjolnir’ is a Norse name for Thor’s hammer. Our take on the traditional mojito is a simple but delicious combination of flavours.
Splash of lime juice or tonic
1) Muddle 3-4 mint leaves in a highball and add a handful of ice.
2) Pour over the mead, stirring with a long-handled spoon.
3) Top up with soda water.
3) Garnish with a few mint leaves.
The Gentleman’s Gambit
How about a touch of sophistication for the discerning? Not just for gentlemen. Definitely gender non-specific!
50ml Lyme Bay Elderflower and lemon vodka
Pink grapefruit and orange, one wedge of each plus zest from each
1) Add the Lyme Bay vodka and Lyme Bay Black Cherry mead to a cocktail shaker.
2) Twist the orange and grapefruit zest into the shaker, adding the peel.
3) Squeeze the juice from the orange and the grapefruit wedges into the shaker.
4) Shake and then pour over ice in a chilled tumbler.
5) Garnish with pickled cherries.
The combination of orange juice and sparkling wine is amazing, but did you know that there are many variations for mimosas? Our exciting take on the absolute brunch cocktail, for example, is using spiced mead—a truly summer-y experience.
Orange juice (If you can swing it, use freshly squeezed orange juice)
Splash of Cointreau liqueur (optional)
Fresh fruit for garnish
1) Pour the mead into a champagne flute.
2) Top up with orange juice and add a splash of Cointreau liqueur for a nice added kick (optional).
3) Garnish with French fruits. Strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries work particularly well.
We hope that the recipes we’ve shared above have encouraged you to start getting creative with mead – in our opinion, one of the finest (and most surprisingly versatile) alcoholic drinks going.
As usual, we’d love to hear if you have any of your ideas about how to incorporate this ancient beverage into a contemporary cocktail, so do please let us know via Twitter, Instagram or Facebook if you think any of your experiments are worth trying!