Honey-Based Margarita Recipe: Mixologist Causes a Stir

 Cultures Clash in a Single Glass

Cultures collide in a single glass in Liz Studer’s honey-based cocktail, the “Meadarita,” which combines one of the first alcoholic libations in human history with a centuries-old Mexican staple and a citrusy French liqueur. Studer is the wine steward and mixologist at The Culinary Vegetable Institute.

“Mead is essentially fermented honey,” Studer said. “It’s one of the oldest beverages on Earth. Sometimes you can add some edible flowers into it, too. But any kind of sweet product that yeast will feed on, you can turn into alcohol. Jamie has some of our honey fermenting right now.”

She is referring to CVI Chef Jamie Simpson and, by “our honey,” she means honey harvested from the many hives lining the entrance to the CVI grounds. “We have 40 to 50 hives at any given moment,” Studer said. 

Blasts from the Past

 Mead, sometimes called honey wine, played a prominent role in ancient Norse history and mythology. Imagine a crowded, dimly lit drinking den of seafaring Vikings post-raid, celebrating a successful homecoming with bawdy songs of the sea, hoisting metal tankards of rich, sweet, foamy, intoxicating refreshment, and you get the picture.

Next comes tequila.

To classify, if loosely, as a margarita, the drink must contain tequila, Studer said. Like mead, the iconic Mexican spirit has origins that reach back centuries to 1,000 BC. Tequila is the end result of fermenting the sweet nectar of the agave plant. The drink originated as a milky-white liquid called pulque, and via the process of distillation evolved into the crystal clear tonic we know today as tequila.

Sweet and Salty Aha! Moment

 The origin of the first margarita recipe remains shrouded in myth and mystery. Tequila’s popularity in the U.S. began during the Prohibition era when thirsty Americans crossed the border looking for a good time in Mexican watering holes. Whether on purpose or by accident, suffice it to say that some enlightened barkeeper circa 1935 blended tequila with a cultural French favorite called Triple sec ─ a 19th-century liqueur distilled from dried orange peels ─ and salt and lime for good measure.

“I use lemon, lime and fresh orange juice,” Studer said. “There’s a mixture of bee pollen and salt on the rim, and of course nasturtiums to garnish. I use nasturtiums for this one because of that spicy characteristic. Sometimes you have spicy foods that go with margaritas. So they’re just kind of akin to each other.”

“In this photo, the drink itself is nestled into our whole frame honeycombs that you can get from The Chef’s Garden,” she added. Studer doesn’t actually serve the drink in a honey frame, of course, but she said the presentation of this margarita recipe is everything, nevertheless.

“When you present this one to the guest, it’ll be like the bee coming into the flower,” Studer said. “So make sure the flower is facing the guest.” She said the pollen garnishing the rim furthers the bee imagery so that the guest gathers pollen with every sip.

“Bee pollen is something you don’t normally see in culinary applications, or even in cocktail applications,” Studer said. “It’s just one of those byproducts of honey production that hasn’t made it into the mainstream yet.”


  • 1 1/2 ounces Silver Milagro Tequila
  • 1/2 ounce Triple Sec
  • 1/2 ounce Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
  • 1/2 ounce Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 ounce Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
  • 2 ounces Mead
  • Shaken and Strained
  • Bee Pollen and Nasturtium to garnish