Sourcing produce from local farms is all the buzz for Baton Rouge restaurants. Since the farm-to-table movement found its way to the South, local eateries source from nearby butcher shops and farms for fresh ingredients. At Hotel Indigo Baton Rouge, the staff took farm-to-table one step further by harvesting their own herbs, vegetables and honey on the rooftop patio for the hotel’s King Bar & Bistro on the first floor.
“When I saw the space on the rooftop, I thought man, we can really do something different here,” Food and Beverage Director Tal Johnson says.
The boutique hotel started the herb garden in spring 2017 and acquired honey bees that fall. After trial and error, the team had its first successful honey harvest in fall 2018. Now, the hotel owns two beehives with more than 5,000 bees each that produce up to eight quarts of smooth honey twice a year.
The hotel’s mixologists use the honey to add sweetness to speciality cocktails like The Lemon-Thyme Drop, Bistro Buzz and the On the River Mojito. In addition to the honey, each of these beverages also features fresh herbs from the garden, including thyme and mint.
The rooftop garden is on the second floor of the building, and the bees are primarily taken care of by Johnson and general manager, Barry Gambold. While the garden isn’t open to the public, visitors staying in The Garden Viewing rooms get exclusive garden views from their bedroom windows.
Spread across the patio are large pots of herbs and flowers. Fragrant bushes of thyme, basil, oregano, mint, tomato, parsley and bell peppers soak up the sun. These fresh herbs aren’t just used in cocktails, but can be found throughout the menu in savory dishes like the Italian-style heirloom tomato flatbread, grilled salmon and fresh avocado and tomato salad.
“The herb garden has been a huge asset to our business,” Johnson says. “I don’t know of many other hotels that harvest honey with their own bees.”
Hotel Indigo is at 200 Convention St. The bar and restaurant is open 4-11 p.m. Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-midnight Saturday and 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday.