Bee’s Knees Cocktail

The bee’s knees cocktail is made with honey syrup instead of simple syrup along with gin and citrus, whether lemon or lime. The cocktail has its origins in Prohibition, back when simple cocktails reigned sweet and supreme.

Martini glass filled with yellow Bee's Knees cocktail--honey, gin, and lemon--with a lemon twist, a shaker on the side

The bee’s knees cocktail, unlike so many fussy cocktails these days, dates back to the Prohibition era in the 1930s. “The phrase ‘bee’s knees’ was slang at the time for ‘the best,'” explains the author. “During this period, the addition of ingredients such as citrus and honey covered the less-than-ideal smell and taste of bathtub gin.” Just imagine how superlative the cocktail is when made with fine booze.–Renee Schettler Rossi

Bee's Knees Cocktail

  • Quick Glance
  • (1)
  • 5 M
  • 25 M
  • Serves 1
3/5 - 1 reviews
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Special Equipment: Cocktail shaker


  • For the honey simple syrup
  • For the bee's knees


Make the honey simple syrup

In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm the honey and water until they’re well combined. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. (You can cover and refrigerate the honey simple syrup for up to a couple weeks.)

Make the bee’s knees

In an ice-filled cocktail shaker, combine the gin, lemon or lime juice, and honey simple syrup. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the lemon twist.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

The perfect cocktail and the gin-lover’s alternative to a lemon drop! The honey is a nice background flavor, like the gin, and the extra complexity results in a perfect cocktail. Although this had a lovely sweetness, you could go just a bit scant and still be happy. Making the honey simple syrup only takes a few minutes and cools quickly. Don’t skip the lemon twist—it's part of the drink, like the tiny ice floes formed by the shaking. I used 1/2 cup each honey and water, brought to a simmer, and then taken off the heat to cool. The gin was Tanqueray (ordinary London Dry Gin green bottle and not Tanqueray 10). This recipe is perfect for one drink. I made a double batch for two people. Immensely drinkable—even quaffable.

The gin drinker in our family was pleasantly surprised that he liked this so much. It was quick to put together. The longest part was waiting for the honey simple syrup to cool, which took about 10 minutes. So during that time I squeezed the 1 1/2 limes needed to get one punch of juice. We used Tanqueray 10.

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  1. So, this actually isn’t a Bee’s Knees. A Bee’s Knees has lemon juice. When you use lime juice, that turns it into The Business.

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