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Bee’s Knees Cocktail

This Bee’s Knees Cocktail only needs a few simple ingredients and is a bright, flavorful drink with a hint of sweetness. Enjoy it on a warm day while you soak up some sunshine!

When the sun is shining and the weather is warm, a refreshing cocktail can be just the thing to transform an afternoon on the patio into a mini vacation. We have a small deck in our backyard where I like to pull up a chair, read a novel and sip a cocktail while listening to the Hermit Thrushes in the woods. This Bee’s Knees cocktail is perfect for moments like that, and not just because the bees are buzzing in the garden this time of year!

What is a Bee’s Knees Cocktail?

A Bees Knee’s is a Prohibition-era cocktail made with gin, fresh lemon juice, and honey.

What does “bee’s knees” mean? The name comes from a phrase that was popular at the time: when something was truly excellent, it was called “the bee’s knees.” The fact that folks in the 1920s and 30s thought this drink was swell enough to merit that moniker is saying something!

The invention of this drink is credited to Frank Meier, who was a bartender at the Hotel Ritz Paris in the 1920s. This cocktail is a spin on the classic Gin Sour, which uses simple syrup instead of honey syrup like a Bee’s Knees.

And don’t worry, even though honey syrup sounds like something fancy, it’s actually just a mixture of honey and water that you can make right on your stovetop.

What Does a Bee’s Knees Taste Like?

A Bee’s Knees cocktail has a bright, citrusy flavor thanks to freshly squeezed lemon juice. It also has a modest amount of sweetness that comes from the honey syrup. Although I usually prefer to use maple as a sweetener in my cocktails, the name of this drink definitely calls for honey.

Top view of a bees knees cocktail drink in a glass

Tools & Ingredients

Here’s what you’ll need to make a Bee’s Knees drink:

Tools

The only special tools you need for this drink are a cocktail shaker (affiliate link) and a measured shot glass. If your cocktail shaker (affiliate link) has a lid with the ounce measurements marked on the inside, then you’ll only need the cocktail shaker (affiliate link). If you don’t have a cocktail shaker (affiliate link), you can also use a mason jar with a screwed-on lid to shake up your drink.

Ingredients

For the Honey Simple Syrup

  • Honey – You can use any kind of honey. Trader Joe’s sometimes has speciality honeys like orange blossom honey, which can add a nice floral note to this drink.
  • Water

For the Cocktail

  • Ice
  • Gin – I like Hendricks because it has notes of cucumber and rose, but you can use any kind of gin. Traditionally a Bee’s Knees was actually made with low-quality gin because good quality spirits were hard to come by during Prohibition, so don’t feel pressured to seek out an speciality gin! Just use what you like.
  • Lemon juice – Only used freshly squeeze lemon juice. None of that bottled stuff!
  • Honey syrup
  • Lemon twist – This is not required, but it will make you feel fancy for minimal effort.

How Much Juice is in One Lemon?

This can vary according to the size and freshness of your lemon but in general one regular-sized lemon yields about 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) of juice. This recipe calls for 3/4 ounce of fresh lemon juice so you should be fine with one lemon, but I usually have an extra lemon on hand just in case.

How to Make a Bee’s Knees Cocktail

Make the Honey Syrup

In a small pan over medium-low heat, combine the honey and water. Stir until the honey is combined with the water, which takes about 2 minutes. Then remove the syrup from the heat and set it aside to cool. You can also pour it into a small mason jar and store it in the fridge for later.

Make Your Cocktail

Fill your cocktail shaker (affiliate link) halfway with ice. Add the gin, lemon juice, and honey syrup. Cover and shake vigorously for about 15 – 30 seconds.

Strain your drink into a glass and garnish with a lemon twist!

Top view of a bees knees cocktail drink in a glass

How to Make a Lemon Curl for Garnish – Two Ways

It is incredibly easy to make a lemon twist and you can do it in minutes. Here’s how:

With a Vegetable Peeler

If you have a vegetable peeler, you can also just use that to create the lemon twist. Simply run the peeler around the lemon a few times, making sure you press down enough to get one long strand by going around the lemon a few times. Do this before you juice your lemon.

With a Knife

If you don’t have a vegetable peeler, don’t despair! You can still make a lemon curl for your cocktail:

  • Reserve a slice of your lemon. Before you juice your lemon, slice off the tip. Then cut off one thin slice of lemon.
  • Remove the peel. Carefully run the tip of your knife along the inside edges of the peel, separating it from the lemon flesh.
  • Cut the peel and remove any pith. Cut one side of the peel so that you have a long strand of lemon peel. Now using the edge of your knife, gently remove any of the remaining white pith.
  • Wrap around a straw or spoon. Wrap the peel around a straw or spoon to create the twist shape. Set aside and proceed with juicing your lemon and making your cocktail.
  • Add to your cocktail. Add the lemon curl to your drink!
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Bee’s Knees Cocktail

Bees knees cocktail with a lemon twist
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This Bee’s Knees Cocktail is made with gin, lemon juice, and honey syrup. It’s a bright, flavorful drink with just a hint of sweetness.

  • Author: Rustic Family Recipes
  • Prep Time: 2 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 minutes
  • Yield: 1 cocktail
  • Category: Cocktails
  • Method: Shake
  • Cuisine: American

Ingredients

For the Honey Simple Syrup

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup water

For the Cocktail

  • Ice
  • 2 ounces gin
  • 3/4 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1/2 ounce honey syrup
  • Lemon twist to garnish, optional*

Instructions

Make the Honey Syrup

In a small pan over medium-low heat, combine the honey want water. Stir until the honey is combined with the water, which takes about 2 minutes. Then remove the syrup from the heat and set it aside to cool. You can also pour it into a small mason jar and store it in the fridge for later.

Make the Cocktail

Fill your cocktail shaker halfway with ice. Add the gin, lemon juice, and honey syrup. Cover and shake vigorously for about 15-30 seconds.

Strain your drink into a glass and garnish with a lemon twist!

Notes

*See instructions in the blog post for how to make a lemon twist.

Keywords: bees knees cocktail, gin cocktails, lemon cocktails

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