Bar profile: Brothers Drake Meadery & Bar

From the July 12, 2012 edition

Brothers Drake Meadery owners Sarah Jones and Oron Benary focus on serving products from Columbus and Ohio at their hip hangout — a laissez-faire bar area, complete with a chic wooden bar and local art, that’s attached to the meadery. Because the bar offers only Buckeye State-based beers, wines and liquors, you might think choices are limited, but there are a number of excellent drink selections.

Nine Brothers Drake meads are available by the glass ($6.25-7.25), and most also can be purchased in 375 mL or 750 mL bottles. The Hopped Traditional mead employs a sweet, bitter balance thanks to the dry hopping, and the unfiltered version (only available on tap at the bar) is unlike anything I’ve ever tasted — in a good way. The Bergamot Blue has a sweet, herbal flavor reminiscent of tea, berries and barley wine.

While the mead is highly recommended — try a flight of five ($15, or $8 during happy hour) — the cocktails are also outstanding. The 10 mead-based concoctions ($8-10) offer a number of flavor profiles from a relatively small number of ingredients. Because Brothers Drake uses only liquors from Middle West Sprits and Watershed Distillery, the mead is the source of the wildly diverging flavors. Head bartender Annie Williams, who says she just “took the challenge and ran with it,” has produced a stellar menu.

The Mazerac is a twist on the Sazerac, a classic New Orleans cocktail; pairing Oyo whiskey with black licorice mead replaces the anise flavor of absinthe. Finished off with some peach bitters and saffron simple syrup, it’s a flavor cornucopia. There are also citrusy (Grapefruit Moon) and savory (Spanky’s Hot Buckeye Basil Express) varieties, and the Hot Shot ($2) — habanero-infused Wild Ohio mead — will take your breath away.

Brothers Drake also offers three Ohio beers on tap, rotating through options from some of Ohio’s best breweries.

To get the full experience of Brothers Drake, take a tour of the meadery on Saturday afternoons and sample a lesser-known libation.

Photo by Todd Yarrington