The Bee’s Kees is a Prohibition-era cocktail featuring gin, lemon juice and honey. The unique name is a convention of the time: The phrase “bee’s knees” was popular slang used to call something excellent or outstanding.
The drink is credited to Frank Meier, an Austrian-born bartender who plied his trade at the Hôtel Ritz Paris during the 1920s. It’s a simple extension of the classic Gin Sour (gin, lemon, sugar) that features honey instead of sugar. The honey creates a richer drink, and it may have been employed to mask the taste of subpar gin, which was prevalent at the time.
Fortunately, the gin market features hundreds of excellent bottles today, so you can enjoy the ingredients at their best. Using a London Dry gin will put more emphasis on the juniper, while a more modern gin imbued with citrus and florals will bring out the lemon and honey notes of the cocktail. Pick whichever gin suits your tastes, as the gin is front-and-center in this drink.
The honey arrives in the form of homemade honey syrup, a simple combination of honey and water that adds complexity and sweetness. Lemon juice complements that sweetness with fresh, tart acidity and brings the cocktail into balance.
Make the Bee’s Knees whenever you want to enjoy an easy, refreshing cocktail. Given that it’s only three ingredients, the Bee’s Knees is a good option for parties and other occasions that call for serving a crowd. With a bottle of gin at hand alongside a batch of honey syrup and plenty of lemons, you can quickly shake up drinks for all your thirsty guests.
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2 ounces gin
3/4 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1/2 ounce honey syrup
Garnish: lemon twist
Add the gin, lemon juice and honey syrup into a shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled.
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Garnish with a lemon twist.