A Bee's Knees is a simple, classic gin cocktail 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.
It's wonderful at any time of year, but especially refreshing during citrus season and early summer.
The Bee's Knees is credited to Frank Meier, an Austrian bartender who came up with it while working 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 served to cover up the terrible taste of the "bathtub gin" prevalent during Prohibition.
- Gin: This drink 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 and water: For the honey syrup.
- Lemon twist: For the garnish.
How to make it
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. (We have this insulated cocktail shaker from Elevated Craft and we love it!)
Shake vigorously, then strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with a twist of lemon.
- 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.
- Add ¼ ounce of Chartreuse to create a Bumblebee's Knees.
- 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 Hanky Panky is a unique gin-based cocktail that gets bold herbal flavors from a dash of Fernet-Branca.
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.