Most people consider mead as a sickly sweet beverage best left to medieval-themed banquets and renaissance fairs, several think it’s beer. Park Restaurant & Bar in Cambridge, MA, hopes to change the negative perceptions of the ancient honey wine with a mead program.
What exactly is mead? Created by the fermentation of water and honey, mead can be dry, semi-sweet, or sweet; it can be brewed with fruits, spices, grains or hops.
For its mead offering, which launched last spring, Park partnered with Center Ossipee, NH-based Meadery. Sap House uses pure New Hampshire maple syrup for several of its meads.
The meads available at Park include the off-dry Hopped Blueberry, made with Willamette hops and native lowbush blueberries, and Ossipioja, a semi-sweet mead that uses Spanish red wine grapes and local wildflower honey. Park offers two seasonal mead flavors for spring: strawberry and elderberry.
Park prices the meads at $8 a glass or $12 for a flight of three small pours. Park’s bar manager Chris Balchum says the most guests that order mead will opt for the flights to sample the different kinds.
Customers also tend to enjoy the meads after dinner vs. with a meal. The meads pair well with some desserts and cheese boards, Balchum says, “but they don’t stand up well to heavy meat dishes” or fare such as mussels.
Mead drinkers at Park tend to be women, Balchum says, but men do order the honey wine as well. Men probably expect it to be served in a heavy stein or goblet, he notes, “so they’re surprised to get a delicate wine glass of mead.”