Beesou’s Delicious Mission To Save The Bees

“No damaging the environment, even if it means saying no or if it costs more”

If we set aside the small matters of developing the Theory Of Relativity and mass-energy equivalence equation (E-mc²), Albert Einstein’s best-known contribution to our collective consciousness is a quote about honeybees:

If the bee disappeared off the face of the Earth, man would only have four years left to live.

It’s quite likely this quote is wrongly attributed and that Einstein never said it, but that doesn’t change the fact that we depend upon bees and other pollinators for about one third of the food we eat. If the great man was still around today, I believe he would be very happy for his name to be attached to a call for bee-saving action if it increased awareness of the problem and drove our efforts to solve it.

And, over the past decade or so, public awareness of the vital role bees play in the global ecosystem as a pollinator has grown, but efforts by conservationists to protect bees are often hampered by the fact that money always seems to trump the environment when it comes to governmental priority.

Such a ‘profit first’ mindset is the antithesis of Beesou Bitter Honey Aperitif’s B Corp-certified brand principle, which co-founder Mark Wakefield describes as: “Always be natural and as sustainable as possible at all times in everything we do. No damaging the environment, even if it means saying no or if it costs more.”

For the uninitiated, Beesou has two very notable qualities – how it tastes, and how it is made. Tackling flavour first, I can’t remember my brain expecting one thing and my tongue experiencing another quite as profoundly as when I first tasted Beesou. The liquid’s rich gold colour and the knowledge it is made with honey lead you to think it will be very sweet with a syrupy texture, and while you do get a hit of honey-sweetness at first, the liquid dries to a bitter finish very quickly, and is extremely complex. The first sip made me hungry – it is every inch an aperitif and tailor made to be a cocktail ingredient.

This brings us on the Beesou’s production, and the principles which guide that process, which Mark Wakefield recently described to me:

Mark Wakefield wearing suitable bee-saving attire.

Beesou is made using ethically sourced British honey that we ferment using a special champagne yeast over a period of 3 months, then infused with natural bitters – Pink grapefruit, chinotto, bitter orange, and Chinchona bark extract. The vibrant sunshine-yellow liquid hew is achieved using safflower extract. We are proud the drink is all-natural… We’re dedicated to ensuring you don’t compromise on understanding what goes into your body during your drink. Our mission involves producing delicious, all-natural, eco-friendly drinks based on honey, contributing to bee conservation.

I asked Mark how Beesou came to be (pun intended), and why bee conservation is important to him:

We started with a sparkling honey wine, but really struggled to get the dryness, it always tasted too sweet. Then we tried using Oolong tea, blending it with the honey to get more complexity with the tannins which took a year and a half as for each trial we had to wait months for fermentation, but the results were always just too sweet. So then we thought ‘wouldn’t it be interesting to make it bitter’, and this was a eureka moment – to use the honey wine as a base and blend it with botanicals. We found a way to create a complex bitter beverage naturally, it was a very exciting moment.

We came across Bees for Development Charity through King Charles as he is a keen bee keeper and Queen Camilla is the Patron of the charity. Bees for development help some of the world’s poorest people become self-sufficient through beekeeping. We have supported them at their events donating stock and we give 10% of our profits to the charity. We hope Beesou can help raise awareness about the importance of helping save the bees!

Part of Beesou’s commitment to sustainable practices and bee conservation are reflected in the brand’s B Corporation status. I asked Mark to describe what this means in practical terms, and what steps a drinks company needs to take to achieve the certificate:

An image from the early stages of Beesou’s creation.

B Lab (the organisation behind the B Corp Standard) is a global nonprofit network transforming the global economy to benefit all people, communities, and the planet (B Lab Link). Obtaining B Corp certification was a paramount step in Beesou’s inception. We didn’t want to merely claim passion for ethical and sustainable business practices, we aimed for official recognition. Embracing the values of B Corp resonated with us, and although not universally recognised, the logo has proven instrumental in winning business…The application process is hard. You must pass a rigorous review process. By B Lab’s own admission, it’s not designed to be easy or quick. We are proud to be the world’s first B Corp aperitif and are pleased to see more drinks brands becoming certified.

Beesou’s unique and complex flavour, combined with an ethical and sustainable approach to production, make it a bartender-favourite in waiting, and engaging with the trade is a priority for the brand in 2024. There is a cocktail competition in the works, and sampling opportunities in various cities around the UK will shortly be announced. With cocktails and bartender-experimentation in mind, I asked Mark to pick his favourite Beesou cocktails so far:

The Beegroni Cocktail

It’s hard to pick a favourite, but a recent cocktail that made it onto all the Ivy Collection restaurants is called “Vivien Leigh’s Elixir” created by the wizard Jean Vital. Bombay Sapphire Premier Cru Gin, bitter honey aperitif and pineapple cordial topped with tonic water. Another favourite is the Golden Negroni (also known as the Beegroni) at Isabel’s restaurant in Mayfair. The Golden Negroni with Seventy-One Eau Nuit Gin, Cocchi Americano Vermouth Bianco, and Beesou.

BarLifeUK will bring you news of Beesou’s cocktail competition and sampling events soon, but if you would like to taste it now, contact your local Nightcap rep.