Evidence of humans clamoring for honey goes back at least 8,000 years. Even then, we couldn’t get enough of the sweet stuff. Just in time for the third annual New York City Honey Festival on September 7, we offer our picks for the best honey in town. By Jessica Allen.
Not only is Brooklyn Grange the world’s largest urban farm, but it also boasts New York’s biggest commercial apiary. You can buy the honey on Saturdays, from May to October, at the flagship farm’s open house in Long Island City (rain or shine). While there, you can also tour the facilities, meet some of the growers, buy other seasonal produce or goods, such as housemade hot sauce, and enjoy majestic panoramas of bridges, cityscape, and sky. Those are some lucky bees to have such a view.
Let It Be Honey
The Whitney Museum has cared for hives since beekeeping in New York City was legalized in 2010. Boasting a label designed by artist Kiki Smith, Let It Be: Whitney Hive Honey doesn’t come cheap, but no doubt it comes flavored with the flowers and shrubs of nearby Central Park. If you can’t get enough of museum-made honey, try the honey profferred by the Queens County Farm Museum, which sits on land that’s been cultivated since the late 1600s. The raw honey has citrus and hay echoes.
Mike’s Hot Honey offers a bright, bold flavor for such few ingredients: it’s made with vinegar, chiles, and, of course, honey. You can put it in tea, on grapefruit or ice cream, over ribs or pizza—especially pizza. According to Slice, one day Mike Kutrz walked into Paulie Gee’s, the Greenpoint pizza restaurant, and asked if he might do an apprenticeship there. Early on, he brought along his special honey, which he’d begun making after trying a similar condiment in Brazil, and the rest is history.
Bronx Bees makes honey and other bee-related products from humanely raised bees in the Bronx. (The beekeeper-in-charge learned these best practices from her Hungarian grandfather.) In addition, this organization will help you get your apiary off the ground, so to speak, by offering chemical-free services and training. But back to the honey: it’s organic, it’s raw, its flavor profile changes, depending on the season, or the add-ins, such as cinnamon or lavender.
A fourth generation beekeeper, Andrew Coté founded both the NYC Beekeepers Association and Bees Without Borders. (He’s also a Fulbright scholar and professor.) His honey is location-specific, so one jar might come from a balcony hive in Hell’s Kitchen while another comes from a backyard in Queens and a third from rooftops on the Upper East Side. You can get to know him and his array of products, including beeswax candles and soap, at the Union Square Greenmarket.