A bees knees (or bee's knees) is a Prohibition era cocktail made with gin, fresh lemon juice, and honey. It is served shaken and chilled, often with a lemon twist.

Bee's knees
IBA official cocktail
A bee's knees cocktail made with gin, 1:1 honey syrup, and lemon juice
Base spirit
ServedStraight up: chilled, without ice
Standard garnishGarnish with lemon peel
Standard drinkware
Cocktail glass
IBA specified
  • 2oz gin
  • 1oz honey syrup
  • 1oz lemon juice
  • garnish with lemon peel
PreparationCombine gin, honey syrup and lemon juice into a mixing tin. Shake. Strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon peel.
Bee's knees recipe at International Bartenders Association

The name comes from prohibition-era slang meaning "the best".[1]

History edit

The bee's knees cocktail has unclear origins. It was possibly invented by Frank Meier, an Austrian-born, part Jewish bartender who was the first head bartender at the Ritz in Paris in 1921, when its Cafe Parisian opened its doors.[2]

A 1929 news article attributes the cocktail to Margaret Brown, an American socialite.[3]

Bees knees cocktail with Barr Hill Gin, honey, and lemon

In 2017, Barr Hill Gin started an annual event called Bee's Knees Week to promote their product. Bee's Knees Week is the largest sustainability event in the spirits industry, focused on pollinator protection.[4][5] A 2023 article published by The New York Times credited an increase in the cocktail's popularity in part to Bee's Knees Week.[6]

Variations edit

  • Several different gin brands are variously recommended, among them Barr Hill's for its redundant honey infusion.[1]
  • The honey may be diluted 1:1 with warm water to thin the consistency.[7]
  • The honey may be diluted 1:1 with simple syrup instead of water.[1]
  • A sprig of basil or thyme may be used for garnish instead of lemon peel.[7]
  • Some variations contain orange juice.[8]
  • Add two dashes of absinthe and two dashes of orange bitters to make a variation called the "oldest living Confederate widow".[9]

References edit

  1. ^ a b c "Bee's Knees". Post Prohibition Handcrafted cocktails. Baltimore: Post Prohibition. 5 March 2013. Retrieved 1 September 2016.
  2. ^ Rothbaum, Noah (2 August 2015). "Frank Meier, The Paris Ritz's Mysterious Bartender Spy". The Daily Beast. The Daily Beast Company LLC. Retrieved 30 November 2020.
  3. ^ "Bee's Knees Cocktail Recipe". www.diffordsguide.com. Retrieved 6 January 2023.
  4. ^ Hemenway, Cassandra (4 October 2022). "Barr Hill Expands, Pledges to Protect Pollinator Habitat". The Montpelier Bridge. Retrieved 6 January 2023.
  5. ^ "Bee's Knees Week 2022 – Caledonia Spirits". Retrieved 6 January 2023.
  6. ^ Simonson, Robert (2 February 2023). "Celebrating the Roaring 2020s With a Bee's Knees Cocktail". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 March 2023.
  7. ^ a b Westfall, JD. "5 Prohibition Cocktails You Should Try". Q Avenue. Archived from the original on 22 August 2016. Retrieved 1 September 2016.
  8. ^ Puchko, Kathy (23 February 2016). "The Origins Of 10 Popular Prohibition Cocktails". Mental Floss. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  9. ^ Deluna, Dani (10 November 2014). "The Oldest Living Confederate Widow". Home Bar Girl. Archived from the original on 6 July 2021. Retrieved 20 December 2016.