Every Friday we raise a glass to celebrate some of the best new boozy bottles to hit store shelves. It’s always our round, and this week we’re serving up gallons of a liquid traditionally served lukewarm in an old cow’s horn. That’s right, we’re talking mead—a fermented honey drink favored by pillaging Norsemen—and asking whether such a barbaric beverage can be updated for a young, cosmopolitan crowd.

 Bee Mead, by Catherine van der Werff

“They say that everything new is the well-forgotten old,” reads Catherine van der Werff’s website. “Mead is the oldest alcoholic beverage known to mankind—discovered in Africa 20,000 years ago in the hollows of baobab trees, where elephants had broken branches and bees had built their hives. This mead revival needed to look and taste new. So the mead maker and I created Bee Mead—a sparkling honey nectar for the modern God and Goddess.” Van der Werff’s visual treatment deals in familiar visual language where our buzzing little friends are concerned; strong yellow lines, hexagonal geometry, and a cheeky bee icon that also resembles three interlocking droplets. A classy, modern approach.

Urban Honey, by Maisie Benson

Maisie Benson goes hard on the modern geometry in her packaging for modern bee brand Urban Honey. Though mead is just one of many strings to the bow of this (sadly fictional) company, the branding still faces the same challenge; to bring modern visuals to an ancient natural product. “My final identity was based around road markings from various cities. By replacing the orange/yellow lines with the honey it very simply created a graphic that combined urban with honey and would stand out on the shelf.”

Charm City Meadworks

Charm City Meadworks is working hard to take mead to the same stratospheric highs as craft lager, pushing for a global boom in this oft-overlooked drink. In doing so they’ve adopted the vernacular of their liberally hopped counterparts, opting for classic clear bottles that recall prohibition-era moonshine, and branding their cans with tasteful pastel hues. As with all of our modern meads, the bee reigns supreme where the logomark is concerned.

Gosnell’s, by The Pattern Guild

In ancient Norse mythology, Poetic Mead was a beverage created by dwarves from honey and the blood of a murdered shaman named Kvasir. Anyone who drank it was immediately turned into a poet or scholar. What relevance has this to The Pattern Guild’s packaging for Gosnell’s? None, but it’s a great story, and one that could be used to inform future mead packaging.

Where Gosnell’s is concerned, The Pattern Guild have crafted a geometric swarm of bees for its limited edition brews that mix unusual ingredients into the honeyed water base. More than any others, these labels evoke something of the history of mead, but maintain a modern flavor with the pared-back monochrome design. Tidy.

Odin owns you all!