When the natural world seems cruel and cold, remember this: History's oldest alcoholic beverage happened by accident.

When the natural world seems cruel and cold, remember this: History's oldest alcoholic beverage happened by accident.

Long before mankind fashioned its stills and mills, honey naturally combined with water and atmospheric yeast, a serendipitous chemistry that resulted in something known as mead. Man first stumbled onto the elixir randomly and, many experts believe, started savoring it before they invented the wheel.

They seemed to like it.

Archeological evidence shows that mead was a global spirit from its early days. It fueled raids, wooed royalty, inspired poems and generally helped a fair share of history's men and women unwind after some really bad days.

Today you can get your own bottle in Columbus, thanks to a North Side craft operation helping bring the drink of kings to the thirsty masses. Brothers Drake is one of about 60 meaderies in the United States and is part of the city's growing industry of craft spirits.

"There are three basic fermented beverages in the world - beer, wine and mead - and mead is the best," said Woody Drake, who runs the business with his brother Eric. "It's not beer. It's not wine. It's mead."

Though it varies greatly in viscosity, flavor, alcohol content and intensity, mead generally is a smooth, pleasant spirit that's enjoyable without having to develop a palate. It's sweet but not syrupy, often aromatic and rich with flavor notes that develop during an aging process that lasts usually between six months and three years.

The staff at Brothers Drake experiments with new flavors and ingredients to augment a year-round stable with seasonal selections. New release Bergamot Blue includes blueberry and bergamot, while Apple Pie combines cider and a blend of autumn spices.

"Mead is like a guitar chord: It's several notes played together, and it sounds beautiful," Drake said. "You've got to find new flavors for people to try. You never know what people are going to go crazy for."

How to find it :

Numerous local bars and restaurants stock Brothers Drake mead, and the staff has tasting events planned through November. Retail bottles are available at the meadery, which also hosts tastings 6-9 p.m. Thursday-Friday, 12-6 p.m. Saturday and by appointment.