Honey-Based Cocktails from a Beekeeping Bartender
Katie Nelson, lead bartender at the Columbia Room, is taking local sourcing to a whole other level: the roof.
There, amidst pipes and planter boxes, she tends a hive of bees. Approximately 60,000 strong, the critters produce enough honey to fill a gallon sized Tupperware container in early summer and fall.
The beekeeping bartender was introduced to the idea by Jeff Miller of DC Honeybees, who aims to combat Colony Collapse Disorder by populating the city with healthy bee colonies. The local nonprofit supplied the bar with the equipment and training necessary to get started, and then returned to aid in the first harvest this past June.
Nelson has big plans for the small batch: mead, a fermented honey wine, to serve to special guests at the Columbia Room, the reservation-only speakeasy tucked inside the Passenger. In the meantime, she’s mixing up a number of honey-based cocktails using local favorite Toigo Orchard’s apple blossom honey. Bee’s Knees is the first cocktail she made with her own honey. The simplicity of the classic cocktail “is a great way to display different types of honey.”
While it may be tempting to replace simple syrup in a cocktail with honey, the golden goo has the tendency to clump at the bottom of the glass. The trick to using honey in cocktails, Nelson explains, is to create a honey syrup of two parts honey to one part hot water that can then be mixed into beverages with ease.