Madeline Hart, of Tavern on the Hill, with the restaurant’s “I’ll Take You Home Again Kathlyn” cocktail.

by April Lisante

One could argue that everything is better with honey. Warm toast in the morning. A nice hot cup of tea. A slab of lavender goat cheese.

And alcoholic drinks. Yes, for the next six weeks, when you saunter into your favorite local restaurants, you might notice that bartenders have gotten creative with one of nature’s finest offerings. It’s part of a friendly competition in Chestnut Hill and citywide sponsored by the Powers Whiskey company, titled “A Measure Above: Powers Honey Bee Initiative.”

For every Power Whiskey bottle cap restaurants collect and store in a jar from now through St. Patrick’s Day, Powers will donate $5 to the Philadelphia Beekeepers Guild, money that will go toward education and support for the local beekeepers who keep our region pollinated. The offer stands to donate a minimum of $2,000 and up to $10,000 if the promotion takes flight.

“It will enable us to provide additional educational offerings for beekeepers,” said Kathy May, a board member for the Philadelphia Beekeepers Guild. May, a retiree who is actually highly allergic to bees, keeps 100,000 honeybees in her Chestnut Hill backyard. From spring through fall, her bees pollinate from dawn to dusk each day and create pure honey, which she bottles and uses.

“It’s a two-fold mission,”May said. “To support local beekeepers and to raise awareness with the public.”

There are nearly 200 local beekeepers in and around Chestnut Hill who make honey. Each has thousands of bees who make their way at dawn to the Morris Arboretum and other local pollination hubs and return at dusk every night with the fruits of their labors. Some beekeepers sell their honey at Weaver’s Way Co-op in Mount Airy, at local farmer’s markets, or directly to restaurants. For others, it is a way to make honey for their own home use. Either way, the bees do a great service for the trees and flowers in our area.

The contest celebrates beekeepers who work from April through October to make the local environment a better place.

“One third of your plate in front of you is dependent upon pollination,” May said. She referenced the fact that foods we love, from avocados and tomatoes to lemons, and even coffee, are dependent upon the honeybees.

Bees are faced with a few primary obstacles, according to May. Pesticides deter them, parasites and pests that are new to the United States daunt them, and poor weather conditions like a late freeze in the spring that kill flowers and pollen can hamper their April debuts.

“Each of us as humans on the planet has the ability to effect those things,” May said.

Powers, which is based in Midleton, Ireland, is launching this promotion in Philadelphia and Seattle this spring, hoping to help local beekeepers in their mission.

Derek King, Powers Global Brand Ambassador, says the company has been trying to preserve agricultural lifestyle since its inception in 1791.

In Dublin, Powers constructed a rooftop garden atop their warehouse to grow crops in an urban area for their staff. The garden had a dual purpose, said King, ultimately keeping whiskey barrels cool during summer months and warm throughout the winter.

“Today, in the U.S., we have chosen to support local beekeeping organizations because bees play a vital role in agriculture and our overall livelihood,” he said.

“We have so many local honey people,” said Anne McNally, co-owner of McNally’s Tavern, which is participating in the promotion. “I hope it creates a friendly competition with downtown.”

So far, Tavern on the Hill, McNally’s, Paris Bistro and Cafe, and Campbell’s are on board. Others may join them in the coming weeks. While Powers suggested four drinks for restaurants to shake up, including a Powers Sour, The Beekeeper, Hot Honey Whiskey and the Honey Highball, restaurants are getting creative with their own libations.

At Tavern on the Hill, owner Kathlyn Egan came up with the “I’ll Take You Home Again Kathlyn” drink to celebrate honey.

“On my first trip to Ireland many years ago, I was ordering a drink, a Rusty Nail, made from Scotch and Drambuie. A very nice bartender suggested I try an Irish whiskey,” said Egan. “It was delicious, and I have been hooked on Irish whiskey ever since, especially Powers. We came up with the Irish version of the Rusty Nail.”

I’ll Take You Home Again Kathlyn

  • 2 oz. Powers Irish Whiskey
  • 1 and ½ oz. Irish Mist (honey-based whiskey)
  • 2 squirts fresh lemon juice

Generous drizzle of honey simple syrup, made with We Bee Brothers Honey, Germantown

In a shaker filled with ice, combine all ingredients. Shake and pour contents into a snifter. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.