Bee’s Knees Cocktail Recipe
Aug 20, 2019, Updated Sep 21, 2023
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The Bee’s Knees cocktail is a Prohibition-Era drink made with gin, lemon juice, and honey syrup (honey and water). It’s a simple classic cocktail, sweetened with real honey and balanced with citrus. It’s refreshing and perfect for gin lovers!
Other than being a Prohibition-Era cocktail, the drink is known for its catchy name—a nod to the time in history it originated. Bee’s knees is a 1900’s slang term for ‘the best’ or ‘awesome’ and of course inspired by the cocktail’s use of honey. And hey, you might even get a nice buzz as you’re sipping.
Looking for more delicious gin cocktails? Also, try the French 75 cocktail and the Corpse Reviver 2. If you’re looking for something a little more floral and complex, try the Last Word and the Aviation cocktail!
Table of Contents
Why This Recipe Works
- The Bee’s Knees is the perfect balance of botanicals, citrus, and sweetness. It’s refreshing and crowd-pleasing whether you’re a gin lover or not.
- The citrus and honey make this a comforting cocktail that can be enjoyed year-round.
- Gin: the Bee’s Knees relies on the botanical brilliance of gin as its base spirit. The juniper-forward nature of gin adds depth and complexity.
- Lemon Juice: freshly squeezed lemon juice cuts through the sweetness of the honey, creating a well-rounded flavor profile that is both refreshing and invigorating.
- Honey syrup: honey lends a silky sweetness to the cocktail. It provides a natural alternative to simple syrup and adds a distinct richness. Save the extra honey syrup for a Brown Derby cocktail!
See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities below.
How to Make a Bee’s Knees
To make honey syrup, combine equal parts hot water and honey in a glass and stir until the honey is fully dissolved.
Combine gin, lemon juice, and honey in a cocktail shaker with a cup of ice.
Shake vigorously for 20 seconds and double strain into a chilled coupe glass.
- Chill your glasses ahead of time in the freezer to keep your drinks cooler for longer. This is one of my favorite tricks in the summer.
- This cocktail is best served in a small coupe glass. It makes for a fantastic presentation given the drink’s history and age.
- Always double-strain shaken cocktails through a fine mesh strainer. This removes tiny ice chips that will dilute the cocktail as it warms.
The Bee’s Knees is not necessarily a gin-forward cocktail. The honey and lemon are very complimentary and will balance the drink. London dry gins such as Beefeater or Bombay Sapphire are both more classic juniper-forward options.
There are numerous modern-day gins on the market with a variety of flavors and infusions. Hendrick’s is very smooth and offers more citrus-forward notes. I like Bar Hill Gin (made with juniper and raw honey), Plymouth Gin, and The Botanist Islay Dry Gin. All are great options with well-balanced botanicals and flavors.
Honey Simple Syrup
Honey simple syrup is made with equal parts honey and water. Honey syrup can be used in cocktails similarly to classic simple syrup (sugar and water), adding unique character and sweetness. It’s easier to make than simple syrup as the honey will easily dissolve in hot or warm water, unlike sugar.
To make honey syrup, heat 1/4 cup of water in the microwave for 20-30 seconds until very warm. Stir in 1/4 cup of honey until fully dissolved. The proper consistency is a little thicker than water when at room temp.
You can make extra syrup and store it in the fridge for about a month. The honey syrup recipe above is good for about 1/2 a cup or 4 cocktails.
Frequently Asked Questions
Simple syrup works but it doesn’t jive as well with the gin and fresh lemon. Simple syrup will leave this cocktail tasting a little stark.
Honey and water dissolve in cocktails much better than pure honey. Honey tends to clump up when chilled and won’t mix well.
My favorite is Plymouth Gin. I use it in a wide variety of gin cocktails.
Enjoy this recipe? If you made this cocktail, please leave a ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ star rating in the recipe card below & a review in the comments!
Bee’s Knees Cocktail Recipe
- 2 ounces gin
- 3/4 ounces fresh lemon juice
- 3/4 ounces honey syrup
honey syrup (makes 1/2 cup)
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup water
- To make honey syrup, combine equal parts hot water and honey in a glass and stir until the honey is fully dissolved.
- Combine gin, lemon juice, and honey in a cocktail shaker with a cup of ice.
- Shake vigorously for 20 seconds and double strain into a chilled coupe glass.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.