If you’ve ever watched “Game of Thrones,” been to Medieval Times, or played “Dungeons and Dragons,” chances are that you have heard of mead (chances are that you also had a crush on Lucy Lawless – and rightfully so). Known as “honey wine” and “the ancestor of all fermented drinks,” this ancient libation is starting to make a comeback. Whether consumed on its own or used as part of a cocktail, mead is ironically becoming the hot new beverage. We talked with LA bartender Cari Hah about this new/old phenomenon and had her come up with an easy-to-do mead cocktail recipe at home. Huzzah!
What technically is mead and how is it made? Is it really just wine with honey added to it?
Cari Hah: Mead is an alcoholic beverage made from fermenting a solution of honey and water. It is NOT wine with honey added to it.
How hard is it to make mead at home?
It’s definitely not easy…unless you think brewing beer at home is easy, which I do not! It takes a lot of time as well – something like 1-2 years to make a great batch!!! (Author’s note: You can buy mead online or at most wine shops. Do yourself a favor and do that instead.)
Just so people don’t get confused, mead is completely different from grog, right?
Mead is a specific alcoholic beverage. Grog is a term that is more general referring to a variety of alcoholic beverages mixed with water. I believe the original meaning of grog was rum mixed with water.
What spirits go best with mead to make a mead cocktail?
Mead can be used with any spirit to make cocktails. It just depends on the other things included! It is the same as using any liquor as an ingredient in a cocktail; everything should just come out as a balanced whole.
Is mead just a trend because “Game of Thrones” is so popular or do you think it has legs to be more than just a fad?
I think like any esoteric spirit, there will always be a following for mead. Now that there are more people making it and it is on the market more, in part because people keep hearing about it from “Game of Thrones” etc, it could grow in popularity. I mean, its never going to be a whiskey or vodka popular, but it will have its place for sure.
Is mead just for people who like wine? If not what other flavors can you add to it?
Well mead is basically wine, so anyone who likes wine should theoretically like mead. But it’s not JUST for wine drinkers. It is a misconception that it tastes as sweet as honey. There are many meads that are dry and crisp. According to mead makers, it really depends on the honey and when the honey is harvested from the bees and there are all these technicalities that affect mead flavor. Some add berries as they ferment the honey/water; some add apples. There are a lot of things you can flavor it with just as there are lots of things you can flavor any liquor with.
Is mead a seasonal drink?
No, but I personally am one of those people who hear mead and think of being in front of a roaring fire with a flagon of mead. And on that note…my recipe is a seasonal one!
Hot Buttered Mead
2 oz. Honey Mead (Earle Estates makes a nice one that is a bit dry similar to a Riesling)
1 oz. dark rum
1 small pat of unsalted butter
Shy 1/2 oz. honey syrup (basically honey syrup is honey with a bit of water added to make it thin enough to pour)
At the bottom of a mug mix together butter and honey and a grating of cinnamon. Add rum and mead, mix with bar spoon. Add 3-4 oz hot water (or however much you want) and mix until butter melted and everything incorporated. Grate cinnamon on top!