For World Bee Day, Nico Orduz of 11 Cadogan Gardens in London sources an artisanal Irish honey to match the taste profile of a Hennessy-based Champagne cocktail.
For a hotel bar in one of London’s most sophisticated areas, classic Champagne cocktails are often the order of the day. Such is the drink’s popularity at 11 Cadogan Gardens, bartender Nico Orduz wondered whether he could give it a local twist while preserving its Gallic credentials.
The answer was on his doorstep. In 2019, the hotel’s owners, Cadogan Estate, had planted the capital’s first ‘Edible Trail’ along Pavilion Road, where the hotel is located, inspiring residents and local businesses to grow their own produce: Nico found rosemary growing on the hotel’s patio.
In his Queen Bee cocktail, the herb comes through in a marriage made in honey – he found the perfect one within Relais & Chateaux, from Ballyfin Demesne, Ireland. This honey, made with nectar from a spectacular bramble flowering and boasting sherbet-like refreshment, sweetens without cloying and amplifies rosemary without letting its pepperiness dominate.
Crucially, it also complements the cocktail’s base spirit of Hennessy V.S.O.P Privilège cognac, with its fruity, vanilla and spiced palate. Hennessy was a natural choice for a cocktail that celebrates bees: its winegrowers are aiming to have cut all herbicides by 2028, and it plants flowers during fallow years in the vineyards.
The Queen Bee remains classically French, but Nico’s clever changes leave the drink lighter, more summery and, somehow, a little bit more London.
Honey and rosemary syrup: Combine 150ml water with 120g of Ballyfin honey in a saucepan and heat gently, whisking occasionally until the honey has dissolved. Allow to cool, then pour into a glass bottle. Add six, freshly cut sprigs of rosemary and leave overnight. In the morning, discard the rosemary, strain the syrup to remove any smaller pieces, and re-bottle. Store it in the fridge for up to one month. There should be enough syrup for around ten cocktails.
Combine all the ingredients (except the Champagne) in a mixing glass. Add a good handful of ice cubes, then stir it for no more than eight seconds. Using a cocktail strainer, pour the mixture into a chilled Champagne flute.
Top up with Champagne.
Garnish by spraying the surface of the drink with a twist of orange zest, then drop the zest into the glass, along with a small sprig of fresh rosemary.