NYC Wine Country: Drinking Manhattan Mead


Honey and alcohol: two of our favorite things

I jumped the gun a bit when I wrote about New York City’s urban winemakers last April. (Ever Had a Nice Bottle of Greenpoint?) For one thing, when I interviewed Michael Dorf about City Winery, it was slated to open this fall. But as you’ve probably seen from all the coverage of the winery’s media event on Wednesday, it’s now projected to open in January. (Maybe Dorf is hoping the stock market will be looking up after the new year. Because charging $5,000 to make a barrel of wine is perhaps not the most recession-proof business model.)

More interestingly, I just got a follow up email from Nathaniel Martin, of Manhattan Meadery, letting me know that his first release just went on sale at the Chelsea Wine Vault. Manhattan Meadery’s honey wine is local in the sense that it’s made from New York State honey, but the only real Manhattan connection is that the mead-makers live here.

Mead—made from fermented honey, not grapes—is one of the oldest alcoholic beverages in the world. The only problem is that it’s often not that good. But I stopped by Chelsea Market to get a bottle of Brooklyn Buzz, Manhattan Meadery’s first release ($13). And it turns out to be pretty tasty, although it took me a few sips to get accustomed to it.

It smells a bit like honey and flowers, but with a sharp, alcohol undertone. It doesn’t taste sweet, but has a nutty, bitter-edged honeyed flavor, almost like dry sherry. I was drinking it on its own, but it would probably be good with mild seafood or chicken. Brooklyn Buzz is worth trying at least once, especially because it’s affordable, and you’ll be supporting a small, local business.