Bobby Heugel's Weekly Cocktail: The Bee's Knees

This week's cocktail is the Bee's Knees - both figuratively and literally. The phrase "the bees knees" appeared at some point in the 1920s as an allusion to the prized pollen carried by bees in sacs located on their legs. The cocktail itself originated during the same period as a way to compensate for the era's low-grade illicit alcohol. Eventually, the Bee's Knees became a bar staple, as it really is one of the simplest and tastiest classics around.

The recipe, after the jump.

The Bee's Knees

  • 2 ounces Gin
  • 1 ounce Lemon Juice
  • 1 ounce Honey Syrup

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

While honey can be used raw in cocktails with some additional effort, making a syrup often helps to fully integrate the honey into cocktails and frequently yields far better results. To make honey syrup, take three parts honey and one part hot water and stir together until the honey and water fully merge. Using honey in cocktails not only adds the nectar's unique flavors to drinks, but it also noticeably impacts the cocktail's body and mouthfeel.

The Bee's Knees, along with countless other cocktails invented during Prohibition, was juice-based. The goal was to hide the poor quality of available booze. Additionally, establishments serving what appeared to be non-alcoholic beverages were able to better disguise their criminal operations. Consequently, the Prohibition Era was a dynamic time for cocktails, and many of today's treasured classics actually started as simple recipes used to illegally sell booze.

Give the Bee's Knees a shot at home or ask for it at any bar that has a basic classic cocktail program. It is a simple cocktail that should be in any cocktail fan's regular rotation. Throw in the abundance of great citrus and local honey available in our area, and the Bee's Knees is certain to live up to its reputation.

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Bobby Heugel