Cocktail & Other Recipes By Spirit Tequila & Mezcal Cocktails

Tequila Bee's Knees (a.k.a. Tequila Honey Bee)

This riff on the classic Bee’s Knees cocktail gets a hint of mezcal.

Tequila Honey Bee Cocktail in a rocks glass with ice and a lemon twist / Tim Nusog

The Tequila Honey Bee is a riff on the classic Bee’s Knees (gin, lemon juice, honey) swapping in reposado tequila with a touch of mezcal. The agave-forward drink has sweet and tart elements that should appeal to fans of the gin-based classic as well as Margarita drinkers looking for something a bit more interesting than their usual three-part favorite.

This refreshing cocktail comes from Nick Korbee, the executive chef and beverage director at Egg Shop in New York City and author of Egg Shop: The Cookbook. He combines reposado tequila with a touch of smoky mezcal, plus honey syrup, and fresh lemon juice, topped with Angostura bitters.

Mezcal pairs well with sweet honey and tart lemon, but here it’s employed sparingly as a rinse, used only to coat the inside of the glass. It's similar to the classic Penicillin cocktail, in which a peaty float of smoke-forward Islay scotch acts as an accent that doesn't overpower the drink. Adding bitters to the drink’s surface, rather than incorporating in the shaker, helps keep the ingredient's aromatic spice notes front and center.


  • 1 dash mezcal, to rinse

  • 2 ounces reposado tequila

  • 1 ounce honey syrup

  • 3/4 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed

  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters

  • Garnish: lemon peel


  1. Rinse a rocks glass with the mezcal, coating the inside of the glass with a thin layer and then discarding the excess, and set aside.

  2. Add the tequila, honey syrup and lemon juice into a shaker with ice, and shake until well-chilled.

  3. Strain into the prepared glass over fresh ice, and top with 2 dashes of bitters.

  4. Garnish with a lemon peel.

What's The Best Tequila For a Tequila Honey Bee?

This recipe calls for reposado tequila, which is slightly aged, resting in steel or oak barrels between one to two years after distillation. Reposado is a nice convergence of the bright citrus notes of a blanco and the earthy spice of an aged tequila. This expression works best with the honey-rich qualities of this drink and can hold its own alongside the hint of smokey mezcal.

Should You Use Honey or Honey Syrup?

Avoid directly adding pure honey to this recipe, and instead make a quick batch of honey syrup. Simply stir together equal parts honey and warm water, until fully dissolved. This creates an ingredient that will more easily mix into the cocktail when shaken, rather than sticking to the bottom of the mixing tin. The syrup will keep for about a month refrigerated.