Bees Knees

Cocktails | Gin

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Unveiling the Bee’s Knees: A Sip of History

Step into a bygone era with the Bee’s Knees, a cocktail that epitomizes the ingenuity of Prohibition mixologists. This delightful blend of gin, honey syrup, and lemon juice offers a refreshing zest, perfect for a summer evening or a cozy night in. But what makes this cocktail a timeless classic?

Imagine a drink that captures the essence of the roaring twenties, yet feels utterly contemporary. Whether you’re hosting a Gatsby-themed soirée or simply unwinding after a long day, the Bee’s Knees is your go-to concoction. Curious about how a simple mixture can dance so elegantly on the palate?

Let’s dive into the world of this citrusy delight, where every sip whispers secrets of speakeasies and the relentless pursuit of flavor during America’s dry spell. Ready to shake up some history?

Key Facts About the Bee’s Knees

Alcohol Content: Approximately 25% ABV

Calories: Approximately 170 kcal

Carbohydrates: Approximately 14 g

Preferred Glass: Chilled cocktail glass

Typical Garnish: Lemon twist

Bee's Knees Cocktail

Tasting Notes

The Bee’s Knees is a symphony of flavors, where the boldness of gin meets the sweetness of honey and the sharpness of lemon. This cocktail is not just a drink; it’s an experience that resonates with those who appreciate the subtleties of a well-crafted beverage.

Suitable for a myriad of occasions, from casual get-togethers to formal events, its versatility is unmatched. The Bee’s Knees is especially appealing to aficionados of classic cocktails who enjoy a touch of sweetness without overpowering the spirit’s complexity.

Whether you’re a gin enthusiast or a curious newcomer, the balance and simplicity of this cocktail make it an accessible choice for any palate. It’s a refreshing option on a hot day, yet equally comforting when you’re seeking warmth.

History of the Bee’s Knees

The origin of the Bee’s Knees is as intriguing as its taste. Born out of necessity during Prohibition, when the quality of alcohol was often questionable, mixologists sought to mask the harsh flavors of bootleg spirits. Honey and lemon were the perfect accomplices, transforming the mediocre into the magnificent.

The name itself is a slang term from the era, meaning “the best.” It’s a fitting title for a cocktail that not only survived but thrived beyond its time. The Bee’s Knees became a symbol of resilience and creativity in the face of adversity.

While its popularity waned post-Prohibition, the cocktail has seen a resurgence in recent years. Modern palates have embraced its balance and simplicity, cementing the Bee’s Knees as a staple in the cocktail revival movement.

Bee’s Knees Ingredients

The gin serves as the backbone of this cocktail, providing a canvas for the flavors to meld. The fresh lemon juice adds a citrusy punch, cutting through the sweetness and highlighting the gin’s botanicals. Honey syrup brings a velvety sweetness that complements the tartness of the lemon, creating a harmonious blend.

  • Gin: 2 oz (60 ml)
  • Fresh lemon juice: 3/4 oz (22 ml)
  • Honey syrup: 1/2 oz (15 ml)
  • Lemon twist: For garnish

Did you know? The Bee’s Knees is not just a testament to the creativity of the Prohibition era but also a reflection of the time’s lingo, where phrases like “the cat’s pajamas” and “the bee’s knees” were the ultimate compliments.

Pouring Honey Syrup

Bee’s Knees Method

Creating the Bee’s Knees is a simple yet rewarding process. Begin by combining the gin, lemon juice, and honey syrup in a cocktail shaker. The key is to shake vigorously with ice until the concoction is well-chilled, ensuring a smooth texture.

Once shaken, strain the mixture into a chilled cocktail glass to maintain the ideal temperature. The final touch is a lemon twist garnish, which not only adds visual appeal but also a hint of lemon oil to the drink’s aroma.

Remember, the quality of ingredients and the precision of the method are crucial in crafting the perfect Bee’s Knees. Each step, from shaking to straining, contributes to the cocktail’s character.

Serving Suggestion

The Bee’s Knees is traditionally served in a chilled cocktail glass, which helps to maintain the drink’s temperature and enhances the overall experience. The shape of the glass also concentrates the aromatic elements, allowing you to fully appreciate the nuanced flavors.

The garnish, a simple yet elegant lemon twist, not only adds a pop of color but also releases essential oils that complement the drink’s citrus notes. It’s the perfect finishing touch to this Prohibition classic.

Elevating the Bee’s Knees

To elevate the Bee’s Knees, consider experimenting with different types of gin. A botanical gin can introduce new flavor notes, while a classic London dry gin keeps it traditional.

Adding a sprig of fresh thyme or a dash of lavender bitters to the shaker before shaking can introduce a modern twist, infusing the cocktail with herbal or floral undertones.

For those with a sweeter palate, adjusting the honey syrup ratio can create a richer experience. Conversely, increasing the lemon juice can enhance the cocktail’s refreshing qualities.

Bee's Knees Cocktail Garnish

Substitutions and Alternatives for the Bee’s Knees

If honey syrup is unavailable, simple syrup can be a suitable substitute, though it will lack the depth of honey’s flavor. For a vegan alternative, agave syrup can mimic honey’s sweetness.

For those who prefer a less potent gin presence, vodka can serve as a neutral base. It’s also worth exploring similar cocktails like the Gimlet or French 75, which share a citrus-forward profile.

Add a Twist

For an autumnal variation, incorporate a hint of cinnamon or apple cider into the honey syrup. This can add a seasonal warmth to the Bee’s Knees, making it an ideal choice for fall festivities.

Another twist is to infuse the gin with earl grey tea, adding a subtle tannic quality and complexity to the cocktail. It’s a simple yet sophisticated way to reimagine this classic drink.

Preferred Liquors for the Bee’s Knees

While the Bee’s Knees can be made with various gins, a high-quality craft gin with prominent botanicals can truly enhance the cocktail’s flavor profile. Brands like Hendrick’s or Tanqueray are often recommended by connoisseurs.

When selecting a gin, consider the botanicals used in its distillation. A gin with hints of juniper, citrus, and floral notes will complement the honey and lemon beautifully.

Similar Cocktails to the Bee’s Knees

If the Bee’s Knees has piqued your interest, you might also enjoy:

  • The Gimlet: A simple yet refreshing gin and lime juice cocktail.
  • The Tom Collins: A fizzy gin classic with lemon juice and soda water.
  • The Aviation: A gin cocktail with maraschino liqueur and crème de violette.

Each of these cocktails shares a common thread with the Bee’s Knees, be it the gin base or the citrus component, making them excellent alternatives or companions on your cocktail journey.

Bee’s Knees FAQs

Can I use bottled lemon juice? While fresh lemon juice is preferred for its vibrant flavor, bottled can be used in a pinch.

Is there a non-alcoholic version? Yes, simply replace the gin with a non-alcoholic spirit or more lemon juice and honey syrup.

How can I make my honey syrup? Combine equal parts honey and warm water, stirring until fully dissolved.

Can I pre-batch the Bee’s Knees for a party? Absolutely, just multiply the ingredients by the number of servings and chill until ready to serve.

How long does honey syrup last? When refrigerated in an airtight container, it can last up to a month.

Bees Knees_001

Bee’s Knees

The Bee's Knees is a Prohibition-era cocktail that combines the sweetness of honey with the tang of fresh lemon juice, all smoothed out by the rich flavor of gin. It's a classic cocktail that's both refreshing and delightfully complex.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
0 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Course Cocktail
Cuisine American
Servings 1 cocktail
Calories 170 kcal


  • Cocktail shaker
  • Strainer
  • Jigger
  • chilled cocktail glass


  • 2 oz Gin
  • 3/4 oz Fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz Honey syrup (equal parts honey and water)
  • Lemon twist for garnish


  • In a cocktail shaker, combine the gin, lemon juice, and honey syrup.
  • Fill the shaker with ice and shake vigorously until well-chilled.
  • Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
  • Garnish with a lemon twist.


To make honey syrup, combine equal parts honey and warm water and stir until the honey dissolves completely. The Bee's Knees can also be adapted for modern tastes by adding a sprig of fresh thyme or a dash of lavender bitters to the shaker before shaking.
Keyword Bee's Knees, Citrus, Classic Cocktail, Easy, Gin, Honey Syrup, lemon juice, Prohibition-Era, Refreshing, Sweet, Tangy

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