Meet Your Maker: Bee Local (Plus A Honey Cocktail)

We think every merchant we work with for Provisions is special -- but when we find one with a great story, we'll be featuring them here. Because we want to tell the world about our favorite makers. 

Today: We're buzzing about a small local honey producer, Bee Local, and how they're changing Portland's culinary scene. Plus, learn to make a honey-sweetened cocktail. 


Shop the Story

Things we’re sweet on: very good cocktails, locally-sourced ingredients, companies with interesting missions and histories. Today we’re telling a story that combines all three. 

“Artisan neighborhood honey” might sound like a Portlandia sketch -- but it’s the real tagline of Bee Local, a Portland, OR-based micro-batch honey producer. You’ve heard of terroir as it relates to wine, and now Bee Local translates the concept to honey. Founder Damian Magista produces it from local hives around Portland – and it’s never treated, adulterated, or filtered. Every jar is pollen-rich and packed with distinct flavors that vary by origin. 

Take the varieties we stock in our Provisions shop as an example: You’d expect two jars of honey from the same city to taste pretty much the same. Compare them, and you’ll be floored. The Portland Farmland honey is punctuated with hints of blueberries and blackberries, with a floral finish. The Willamette Valley blend comes from an area rich in vineyards, hops, and berry farms -- the end result is a more complex, robust honey.

It’s a pretty neat taste test to try -- you experience firsthand the difference environment makes on our food.  

As if this method of terroir-based honey wasn’t cool enough, Bee Local has teamed up with Provenance Hotels for an experiment in hyper-local food. They built hives on the roofs of 3 Portland hotels, and now harvest the honey to use as an ingredient in the hotel bars and restaurants. It’s inspired dishes like fried rabbit with honeyed corn cakes and pickled watermelon radish, and the Harlequin cocktail, which blends aperol, gin, and sparkling rosé with honey and lemon (see the recipe here). 

The project is a novel take on farm-to-table eating -- plus it supports sustainable beekeeping by fostering small urban bee colonies. 

To make the most of this sort of very good honey yourself, pair it with anything and everything. Fresh ricotta drizzled with honey and cracked black pepper makes an excellent (not to mention elegant and quick) crostini. Honey swirled into a vanilla ice cream base is never a bad idea. And if you haven’t had the pleasure of a honey and tahini sandwich with some wheat germ for crunch -- go excuse yourself from reading, and remedy that.

The Harlequin

1 ounce London gin
1/2 ounce Aperol 
1/2 ounce lemon juice
1/4 ounce Bee Local honey
3 ounces sparkling Brut rosé

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Head to Provisions to try the honey for yourself! 


See what other Food52 readers are saying.

I like warm homemade bread slathered with fresh raw milk butter, ice cream in all seasons, the smell of garlic in olive oil, and sugar snap peas fresh off the vine.