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How to Make a Classic Bees Knees Cocktail: Recipe and Tips

Looking to mix up a delicious cocktail? Try a Bees Knees! All you need is gin, honey syrup, and fresh lemon juice. Shake and serve over ice.

Bees Knees Cocktail
Delicious bee's knees cocktails and ingredients. Image: New Africa/Shutterstock

Are you looking for a classic cocktail that’s easy to make and sure to impress? Look no further than the Bees Knees cocktail!

This prohibition-era drink is simple yet sophisticated, with a sweet and sour flavor that will leave your taste buds buzzing. 

In this article, we’ll explore everything you need to know about the Bees Knees cocktail, from its history to its recipe and variations.

A Brief History of the Bees Knees Cocktail

The Bees Knees cocktail first gained popularity in the 1920s during the era of prohibition in the United States. It was a way to disguise the harsh taste of bootleg gin with sweet and sour flavors, making it more palatable for drinkers. 

The term “bees knees” was a popular slang term at the time, meaning something that was the best or the height of excellence. It’s not entirely clear where the name of the cocktail came from, but it’s believed to have been a play on this phrase.

The cocktail quickly became a favorite among the fashionable set, with celebrities like Dorothy Parker and Ernest Hemingway known to indulge in the drink. Despite the end of prohibition, the Bees Knees remained a popular cocktail throughout the decades and is still enjoyed today.

The Ingredients of the Bees Knees Cocktail

To make the classic Bees Knees cocktail, you’ll need just three simple ingredients: gin, lemon juice, and honey syrup. 

Gin is the base spirit of the cocktail, providing a strong but smooth flavor. Lemon juice adds a tartness that balances out the sweetness of the honey syrup. And the honey syrup provides a unique sweetness that’s less cloying than regular simple syrup.

When it comes to choosing your ingredients, it’s important to opt for high-quality products. Look for a good quality gin that’s not too overpowering, and use freshly squeezed lemon juice for the best flavor. 

For the honey syrup, you can either buy pre-made syrup or make your own by combining equal parts honey and hot water.

The Recipe for the Bees Knees Cocktail

Making the Bees Knees cocktail is incredibly simple. To start, fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add 2 ounces of gin, 3/4 ounce of lemon juice, and 1/2 ounce of honey syrup. Shake vigorously for around 15 seconds to combine the ingredients and chill the drink. Strain the cocktail into a chilled glass and garnish with a lemon twist or a sprig of fresh thyme.

If you prefer your cocktails a little sweeter or more sour, you can adjust the amount of honey syrup or lemon juice to suit your tastes. Just be sure to shake the cocktail thoroughly to ensure that all the flavors are well mixed.

Variations on the Bees Knees Cocktail

While the classic Bees Knees cocktail is delicious on its own, there are plenty of variations that you can try to mix things up. 

One popular variation is to add a splash of grapefruit juice to the mix, giving the drink a slightly bitter flavor that balances out the sweetness of the honey. Another option is to infuse your gin with herbs like rosemary or thyme, adding a subtle earthy flavor to the cocktail.

For a fun twist, you can also experiment with different types of honey. Different varieties of honey, such as clover, wildflower, or manuka, have their own unique flavor profiles that can completely change the character of the cocktail. Just be sure to choose a honey that’s not too overpowering, or it could overwhelm the other flavors in the drink.

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