If the COVID-19 pandemic is an SOS from Mother Earth, as some say, then it’s a cry that has driven many of us to drink. But what if we could respond—and do our bit to help the planet’s ecological crisis—with a cheerful message in a bottle?
A beeswax-lined bottle, that is. Beeswax aging is a relatively new mixology technique that lends textural richness, subtle honeyed aromas and soft, rounded flavours to spirits and batched cocktails. The method is simple. Heated wax is poured into a glass bottle and rolled around to coat the interior. Once the wax has hardened, the alcohol is added and left to rest for about a week.
Proponents say beeswax is a greener alternative to barrel aging, as no trees need be felled in the making of these cocktails. It’s also more cost-effective and produces results that are more consistent than those produced by wood. “Beeswax-lined bottles can be used 10 to 15 times with little change,” says Botanist bartender Max Curzon-Price. He’s been promoting the use of beeswax and other bee byproducts in cocktail programs to raise awareness about the plight of the bumblebee—which also happens to be the name of the drink that earned him the 2020 Bacardi Legacy Canadian championship.
And he’s not the only one buzzing about it: Winnipeg’s Patent 5 is a convert, and Toronto’s Mother Cocktail recently offered a barrel-aged El Presidente with beeswax-infused rum for takeout. Having experimented with more than 30 beeswax washes, Curzon-Price says it works best with high-ABV liquors and spirit-forward cocktails like the Martinez. “It mellows the harsher notes and bonds them with the delicate tones in vermouths and amari.”
In his opinion, the bright, floral tang of beeswax-aged tequila is “bloody marvellous.” Even more interesting is its potential with citrus-based cocktails that can be aged in the fridge. “It makes a great skinny margarita because beeswax provides the perception of sweetness without any residual sugar.”
Low-cal cocktails that could save the bees and help shed the Quarantine 15 we’ve all packed on? Now that does sound sweeter than honey.