Good mead takes time. It isn't a lot of work, but you have to start with good ingredients (simple: honey, water, yeast) and find it a cool, relatively stable place to spend a few months. This is the first place I have had in LA that could meet that last requirement. My study/laboratory, on the first floor of the Northeast corner of the house, is sort of like a drafty wine cellar...so last fall I brewed up a 3 gallon batch of mead and left it sitting there until last weekend.
Honey quality definitely matters - I haven't made friends with any local beekeepers here yet, and our local health food store got bought by Lassen's and stopped carrying bulk honey, so I used Trader Joe's Mesquite honey for this batch, along with White Labs sweet mead yeast.
My mead recipe comes from my SCA days. Purists only here - no spices, fruits, or additives. Those all help if your honey isn't great, but if you've got good honey, let it shine. 3-4 pounds of honey per gallon of water for a sweet mead.
Bottling is the fun part (in addition to drinking, of course). My bottle corker was one of the first big purchases I made when I got a "real job"...hated that job, but I still have the corker. It's 3 feet tall and definitely a commitment to make space for in the kitchen, but you have to have priorities, right?
Come to think of it, that bottle corker was just about the most satisfying $200 I've ever spent. When I think of all the money I frittered away from that high paying job, because I didn't have a clue about money, I really wish I had bought the cider press too...