Bee's Knees Cocktail Drink

Bee’s Knees

A shot of Gavin Wrigley looking to the camera in a dimly lit room
Written by Gavin Wrigley
Andrea
Tested by
Andrea Ottaiano

This Bees Knees cocktail recipe has all the ingredients you need. It’s easy to make, and the drink is refreshing every time.

Bee's Knees Recipe

Made with gin, lemon juice, and honey syrup, this zesty drink is a straightforward yet sophisticated choice for any occasion.

Prep time:

1 minute

Mixing time:

1 minute

Servings:

1

Calories:

179 kl

Ingredients

  • 2 oz Gin
  • ¾ oz fresh lemon juice
  • ½ oz honey syrup
  • Ice cubes
  • Lemon twist, for garnish, optional

Equipment

  • Cocktail Shaker
  • Measuring Jigger
  • Strainer
  • Coupe Glass

Instructions

  • Chill Glass: Place your coupe glass in the freezer to chill.
  • Add Gin: Pour 2 oz Gin into the shaker.
  • Add Lemon Juice: Measure and pour ¾ oz fresh lemon juice into the shaker.
  • Add Honey Syrup: Add ½ oz honey syrup to the mix.
  • Prep Shaker: Fill your cocktail shaker with ice cubes.
  • Shake Well: Shake the ingredients vigorously for about 15-20 seconds.
  • Strain: Strain the cocktail into your chilled coupe glass.
  • Garnish: Add a lemon twist for garnish.

Notes

Substitutes:

  • Gin: Vodka makes a decent substitute if you're out of gin. It won't have the botanical notes, but it'll do the job. I've also used a gin-infused herbal tea for a unique twist.
  • Lemon Juice: In a pinch, lime juice can replace lemon juice. It changes the flavor profile but still tastes great.
  • Honey Syrup: Agave syrup works well if you're out of honey. It's a bit sweeter, so you might want to use less.

Making a Pitcher of Bee's Knees:

  • Scale: To serve 8, multiply all the ingredients by 8. That's 16 oz of gin, 6 oz of lemon juice, and 4 oz of honey syrup.
  • Mix: Combine all the ingredients in a large pitcher and stir well.
  • Serve: Pour the mixture into ice-filled glasses, garnish with a lemon twist, and serve immediately.

Making it Non-Alcoholic:

  • Gin Substitute: Use a non-alcoholic gin substitute; they mimic the botanicals well.
  • Proceed As Usual: Use these non-alcoholic substitutes and follow the original steps for non-alcoholic Bee's Knees.

Making it Vegan:

  • Honey Syrup Substitute: Use agave or maple syrup instead of honey to make your Bee's Knees vegan-friendly.

Nutrition Facts

Calories
179
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
0.1
g
0
%
Saturated Fat
 
0.01
g
0
%
Sodium
 
1
mg
0
%
Carbohydrates
 
13
g
4
%
Fiber
 
0.1
g
0
%
Sugar
 
12
g
13
%
Potassium
 
30
mg
1
%
Protein
 
0.1
g
0
%
Vitamin A
 
1
IU
0
%
Vitamin C
 
8
mg
10
%
Calcium
 
2
mg
0
%
Iron
 
0.1
mg
1
%

 

Bee's Knees Cocktail Drink

Bee's Knees Recipe

Gavin Wrigley Written by Gavin Wrigley
Jump to Video
Made with gin, lemon juice, and honey syrup, this zesty drink is a straightforward yet sophisticated choice for any occasion.
Prep time: 1 minute
Mixing time: 1 minute
Servings: 1
Calories: 179

Ingredients
 

  • 2 oz Gin
  • ¾ oz fresh lemon juice
  • ½ oz honey syrup
  • Ice cubes
  • Lemon twist - for garnish, optional

Equipment

  • Cocktail Shaker
  • Measuring Jigger
  • Strainer
  • Coupe Glass

Instructions

  • Chill Glass: Place your coupe glass in the freezer to chill.
  • Add Gin: Pour 2 oz Gin into the shaker.
  • Add Lemon Juice: Measure and pour ¾ oz fresh lemon juice into the shaker.
  • Add Honey Syrup: Add ½ oz honey syrup to the mix.
  • Prep Shaker: Fill your cocktail shaker with ice cubes.
  • Shake Well: Shake the ingredients vigorously for about 15-20 seconds.
  • Strain: Strain the cocktail into your chilled coupe glass.
  • Garnish: Add a lemon twist for garnish.

Notes

Substitutes:

  • Gin: Vodka makes a decent substitute if you're out of gin. It won't have the botanical notes, but it'll do the job. I've also used a gin-infused herbal tea for a unique twist.
  • Lemon Juice: In a pinch, lime juice can replace lemon juice. It changes the flavor profile but still tastes great.
  • Honey Syrup: Agave syrup works well if you're out of honey. It's a bit sweeter, so you might want to use less.

Making a Pitcher of Bee's Knees:

  • Scale: To serve 8, multiply all the ingredients by 8. That's 16 oz of gin, 6 oz of lemon juice, and 4 oz of honey syrup.
  • Mix: Combine all the ingredients in a large pitcher and stir well.
  • Serve: Pour the mixture into ice-filled glasses, garnish with a lemon twist, and serve immediately.

Making it Non-Alcoholic:

  • Gin Substitute: Use a non-alcoholic gin substitute; they mimic the botanicals well.
  • Proceed As Usual: Use these non-alcoholic substitutes and follow the original steps for non-alcoholic Bee's Knees.

Making it Vegan:

  • Honey Syrup Substitute: Use agave or maple syrup instead of honey to make your Bee's Knees vegan-friendly.

What is a Bee’s Knees?

A Bee’s Knees is a gin cocktail that combines lemon juice and honey syrup. People love the Bee’s Knees for its straightforward yet refined flavors. The cocktail has roots in the Prohibition era, gaining fame as a way to make harsh gin more palatable. The International Bartender Association (IBA) officially recognizes the Bee’s Knees cocktail and includes it in their list of official cocktails. This drink falls under the ‘New Era Drinks’ category.

A side shot of a Bee's Knees cocktail in a coupe glass on a brown coaster surrounded by a lemon peel, a honey syrup jar and a bar spoon, with three lemons and a jigger on the background.

What is a Bee’s Knees made of – The ingredients

Prepare these ingredients to make a Bee’s Knees:

  • Gin: Provides the botanical backbone of the cocktail.
  • Lemon Juice: Adds a zesty, citrusy kick to balance the sweetness.
  • Honey Syrup: Sweetens the drink and complements the gin’s botanicals.

Gin, lemon juice and honey syrup laid out on a white bar table.

How do you make a Bee’s Knees?

We will guide you through making a Bee’s Knees:

1
<p>First, place your coupe glass in the freezer to chill it for the cocktail.</p>

First, place your coupe glass in the freezer to chill it for the cocktail.

2
<p>Pour 2 oz of gin into the shaker to establish the cocktail's botanical base.</p>

Pour 2 oz of gin into the shaker to establish the cocktail's botanical base.

3
<p>Measure and add ¾ oz of fresh lemon juice to the shaker for a citrusy balance.</p>

Measure and add ¾ oz of fresh lemon juice to the shaker for a citrusy balance.

4
<p>Add ½ oz of honey syrup to sweeten the mix and complement the gin.</p>

Add ½ oz of honey syrup to sweeten the mix and complement the gin.

5
<p>Fill a cocktail shaker with ice cubes to prepare for mixing.</p>

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice cubes to prepare for mixing.

6
<p>Shake the ingredients vigorously in the shaker for 15-20 seconds to blend them well.</p>

Shake the ingredients vigorously in the shaker for 15-20 seconds to blend them well.

7
<p>Strain the shaken cocktail into your chilled coupe glass to remove ice shards and pulp.</p>

Strain the shaken cocktail into your chilled coupe glass to remove ice shards and pulp.

8
<p>Garnish the drink with a lemon twist to add a final touch of citrus aroma.</p>

Garnish the drink with a lemon twist to add a final touch of citrus aroma.

Bee’s Knees with Bourbon, with Vodka, or with Rum

If you’re thinking of straying from gin in your Bee’s Knees, here are some thoughts on using bourbon, vodka, or rum. With bourbon, brands like Maker’s Mark or Buffalo Trace will add a rich, caramel note that could be interesting but will change the cocktail’s character. Vodka, especially a neutral one like Tito’s, will make the drink less botanical but refreshing. Rum, particularly a white rum like Bacardi, could add a tropical vibe. However, if you’re going to pick one, I’d suggest sticking with vodka. It’s the most neutral of the three and lets the honey and lemon shine, keeping the spirit of the original cocktail intact.

Bee’s Knees Mocktail

For a mocktail take on the Bee’s Knees, you can easily swap out the gin for a non-alcoholic gin substitute. These usually contain botanicals that mimic the flavor of traditional gin. Instead of honey syrup, you can opt for a simple or flavored syrup like lavender or rosemary to keep things interesting. Just like the alcoholic version, shake all the ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with a lemon twist, and you’ve got a refreshing, alcohol-free version that’s just as enjoyable as the original.

Best Gin for a Bee’s Knees

You’ve got options when picking the best gin for a Bee’s Knees. A classic London Dry Gin like Beefeater or Tanqueray works great, offering a clean, botanical kick that pairs well with the honey and lemon. If you’re looking for something more adventurous, try Hendrick’s for its cucumber and rose notes, which add a unique twist. But if you ask me, Bombay Sapphire is a solid choice for this cocktail. Its balanced profile of 10 botanicals complements the honey syrup and lemon juice, making each sip a harmonious blend of flavors.

What is a Lavender Bee’s Knees?

In Lavender Bee’s Knees, lavender syrup replaces the standard honey syrup. The lavender adds a floral dimension to the drink, pairing well with the botanicals in the gin and the tartness of the lemon.

A Bee's Knees cocktail, shot from above, in a coupe glass surrounded by garnish, a honey syrup jar and a bar spoon.

Bee’s Knees Variations

We have some options if you want to try some twists on the original:

  • Lavender Bee’s Knees: The Lavender Bee’s Knees mix captivates with its calming, floral scent of lavender, creating a relaxing and aromatic experience. Perfectly pairing the subtle fragrance of lavender with the sweetness of honey, the gentle lavender notes in every sip feel like a peaceful retreat.
  • Killer Bee: Bold and striking, the Killer Bee mix makes a statement with its incorporation of Mezcal. It often features a unique blend of ingredients that add a zesty and strong character. The robustness of this choice excites the taste buds, offering an exhilarating and lively experience.
  • Blueberry Bee’s Knees:Adding a sweet and tangy flavor, the Blueberry Bee’s Knees mix offers a fruity and refreshing twist. The blueberries not only enhance the taste but also contribute a vibrant color. The burst of berry flavor is reminiscent of a delightful summer day in a glass.
  • Ginger Bee’s Knees:The Ginger Bee’s Knees mix is known for its spicy and lively ginger taste. Adding a warm and zesty edge, it balances the sweetness of honey perfectly. The sharpness of ginger is particularly appealing, providing an energizing kick that’s both refreshing and bold.
  • Bee Sting:Known for its unique blend of sweet and spicy flavors, the Bee Sting mix often includes a bit of heat from chili or pepper, creating an interesting contrast with the sweet base. The captivating mix of sweet and spicy in this drink makes each sip a delightful surprise.

History and Origin of the Bee’s Knees

The Bee’s Knees cocktail hails from the Prohibition era in the United States when alcohol was illegal and often of poor quality. Bartenders created the Bee’s Knees to mask the harsh flavors of bathtub gin, using ingredients like honey syrup and lemon juice. The name “Bee’s Knees” was popular slang during the 1920s, meaning “the best,” which aptly describes the drink’s reputation.

A side shot of a Bee's Knees cocktail in a coupe glass surrounded by a lemon peel, two lemons and a honey syrup jar.

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FAQ

How many calories are in a Bee's Knees?
A standard Bee's Knees has around 200-220 calories, depending on the specific ingredients used.
How strong is a Bee's Knees in terms of ABV and proof?
The Bee's Knees typically has an ABV of around 30-35%, translating to 60-70 proof, depending on the gin used.
What type of alcohol is used in a Bee's Knees?
Gin is the primary alcohol in a Bee's Knees, providing the cocktail's botanical base.
In which glass is a Bee's Knees typically served?
You'll usually find a Bee's Knees served in a chilled coupe glass.
What does a Bee's Knees taste like?
The Bee's Knees offers a balanced flavor profile, combining the botanicals of gin with the sweetness of honey and the tartness of lemon.
What is the ratio of ingredients in a Bee's Knees?
The classic ratio is 2 oz of gin, ¾ oz of lemon juice, and ½ oz of honey syrup.
How is a Bee's Knees served in terms of ice?
The Bee's Knees is typically shaken with ice and then strained into a chilled glass, serving it "up" without ice.
What's the difference between honey and honey syrup?
Honey syrup is a mixture of honey and water, making it easier to mix into the cocktail.

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