A Bee's Knees cocktail is a simple gin drink made with lemon juice and honey syrup that dates back to the Prohibition era. The recipe only requires a few ingredients, so it's easy to make at home.
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This cocktail is the Bee's Knees! And by that I mean it is both the name of the drink and the perfect way to describe it. It tastes like a warm sunny day, with floral notes from the gin, a bit of sweetness from the honey syrup, and the lemon juice brings bright acidity.
The Bee's Knees is credited to Frank Meier, an Austrian bartender who worked at The Ritz in Paris in the 1920s. It's a twist on a gin sour, using honey instead of sugar. The heavier and richer flavor of honey may have covered up the terrible taste of the "bathtub gin" prevalent during Prohibition.
A Bee's Knees cocktail is wonderful at any time of year, but especially refreshing during citrus season and early summer. It's a very smooth, very sippable drink.
Ingredients you'll need
Just three ingredients combine to make one of the most delicious gin cocktails you've ever had!
- Gin: This Bee's Knees recipe lends itself well to a very floral, botanical gin. I like Hendricks, but you can also try Citadelle or The Botanist.
- Fresh squeezed lemon juice: Please squeeze yourself. Do NOT use that stuff in the plastic lemon!
- Honey syrup: We'll make honey syrup instead of simple syrup. It's just equal parts water and honey.
- Lemon twist: For the garnish.
How to make a Bee's Knees cocktail
Step 1: Make the honey syrup
Combine equal parts warm water and honey, stir until honey dissolves. Note: This recipe makes enough honey syrup for several cocktails. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to a month.
Step 2: Mix and shake it up!
Pour the gin, lemon juice, and honey syrup into a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake vigorously. We have this insulated cocktail shaker from Elevated Craft and we love it!
Step 3: Strain and serve
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. (I like these coupe glasses.) Garnish with a twist of lemon.
You could substitute vodka, tequila or even mezcal. These clear liquors would all taste great with honey and lemon.
Simple syrup is made with equal parts sugar and water, honey syrup is made with equal parts honey and water.
Bee's Knees cocktail variations
- Make a virgin Bee's Knees by using a non-alcoholic gin. Brands to try: Seedlip, Fluère, Lyre's.
- Amp up the floral flavor by adding ½ ounce of St. Germain, an elderflower liqueur.
- Swap the gin for bourbon, and you've got yourself a Gold Rush Cocktail.
- Add ¼ ounce of Chartreuse to create a Bumblebee's Knees.
When to serve a Bee's Knees cocktail
The beauty of this classic gin cocktail recipe is that you probably keep all of the ingredients around most of the time so you can make one whenever it strikes your fancy!
- Make a Bee's Knees cocktail when lemons are at their peak during citrus season from November to March.
- Serve for spring celebrations like Easter, Mother's Day, and graduation parties.
- Perfect for baby showers because they are such a beautiful color.
- Always a good happy hour drink!
What to pair it with
More citrusy cocktail recipes
- Keep it citrusy with an Old Cuban Cocktail. It hits with a one-two punch of lime and mint, perfect to cool you down when the temperatures rise.
- A Blood Orange Negroni puts a twist on the classic by adding a splash of blood orange juice.
- A Jasmine Cocktail has loads of bright lemon flavor and gets its beautiful blushing pink color from Campari.
A Bee's Knees is a light and refreshing classic cocktail!
- So citrusy! Fresh-squeezed lemon juice = refreshing!
- Homemade honey syrup adds sweetness without being sugary.
- Invented at The Ritz in Paris, so you know it's fancy!
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Bee's Knees Cocktail
- ¼ cup honey
- ¼ cup warm water
- 2 ounces gin
- ¾ ounce lemon juice
- ½ ounce honey syrup
- lemon twist for garnish
- Make the honey syrup by combining equal parts warm water and honey, stir until honey dissolves.
- Pour the gin, lemon juice, and honey syrup into a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
- Shake vigorously, then strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with a twist of lemon.
- This recipe makes enough honey syrup for several cocktails. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to a month.