Meet the mead maker: Tom Gosnell introduces us to a Shakespearean favourite that’s making a comeback

Christmas 2017, we’ve teamed up with Gosnells, London’s only modern day mead-makers to serve up a winter warmer with a difference.

The team have set up shop on the terrace outside the restaurant and will be offering mulled mead, infused with festive spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and anise.

We caught up with founder and chief mead maker, Tom Gosnell, to find out more about this delicious drink, which was one of London’s favourites during Shakespearean times but has since slipped from prominence. Until now, of course.

So, what is mead?
Mead is any alcohol which has been fermented more from honey than anything else – there’s a long tradition of using honey in brewing but to be a mead, it needs to be mainly honey.

And what goes into making the perfect mead?
What’s really amazing about honey is that it can taste completely different depending on what the bees have been eating. When you ferment the honey you strip away some of the sweetness so you can access all the other flavours. At Gosnells, we use a Spanish orange blossom honey which gives delicate citrus and floral notes to the mead.

What was it that drew you to mead initially?
I was travelling in the US, and came across Maine Meadworks, and it was the first time I’d tried mead that was crafted from really great honey. I tried it and it inspired me as to what could be achieved. From there, what started as a hobby quickly escalated into a business.

Do you think mead is poised for a comeback, then?
Of course! It’s the world’s oldest alcohol and I definitely think there’s room for more of it in our lives – honey is just another source of sugar so there’s a huge variety of flavours and profiles you can get from it, not unlike wine, so there’s definitely a mead which is perfect for almost every occasion.

What makes Swan a good place for a mulled mead bar?
When we were setting up the space, I remember just being breathtaken by the view – on your left you have the iconic Globe Theatre and on the right the full panorama of the city – it really plays into what we’re doing, marrying something inspired by history but bringing it to a modern audience.

Aside from having it mulled, how else is mead good?
Our London Mead is best served chilled, and simply in a glass – it makes a great light alternative to Champagne at this time of year.

And mead aside, what is your tipple of choice?
Working in booze, I’m lucky enough to try a lot of different things. At the moment I’m enjoying a lot of sweet vermouths with soda over ice – they’re not as strong as a traditional spirit and mixer so they’re perfect for the party season when you’re out at at least one party a night!

Who would you most like to pour a drink for?
I’d love to say someone intelligent like Marcus Aurelius, but in reality I’d think I’d get along much better with someone like Keith Floyd – great taste and great at debunking the sometimes elitist nature of food and drink.

And finally, what do you hope you’ll find in your stocking on Christmas Day?
I love my food, so it’d be amazing if someone could fit a full Jamon Iberico in there!

Visit the Gosnells Mulled Mead Bar at Swan right up until Christmas, and discover the Shakespearean favourite for yourself. And when you’ve reached max mead, head into our bar for cocktails both hot and cold, wines and a large selection of draft and bottled beers, all perfect paired with snacks, small plates and sharing boards.