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The Bee's Knees Cocktail
The Bee's Knees Cocktail

The Bee's Knees Cocktail

In search of a light, refreshing cocktail as the days get hotter? Me, too! My go-to pre-bedtime cocktail is gin mixed with chamomile or lemon-ginger tea—the perfect relaxing nightcap to send me off to dreamland— so, naturally, we have a few varieties of gin laying around the house. With bees always on the brain these days, what better option than the Prohibition-era gin-based cocktail The Bee’s Knees?

This simple, three-ingredient cocktail is a perfect opportunity to really appreciate the subtle differences in different gins—not to mention ideal for your next gathering. So I invited some guests over to help me test this recipe out with a few of my favorite gins.

ginger, gin and honey syrup

If you’re feeling a little sweet, try Whitley Neill Rhubarb & Ginger Gin. This gin gave the cocktail a tangy-sweet vibe we loved, but the ginger punch wasn’t as strong as we would have liked. Next time we’d add a bit of ginger to the honey syrup.

lemon gin, honey syrup and lemon wedges

If you really love your lemon, try Italian-made Malfy Gin con Limone. This is super-refreshing for a hot day, as long as you don’t mind it being a bit more tart than sweet. This one is best extra ice cold—try serving it lowball style over ice to sip.

orange slices, gin and honey syrup

The one that was really, well, the bee’s knees? (Sorry.) Whitley Neill Blood Orange Gin. By far the group favorite, the orange does overpower the lemon a bit, but it made the drink punchier and more complex.

Tips: To really get into the 1920s spirit, serve this cocktail in a coupe glass. These gorgeous wide-bowl glasses are back in fashion and can now be found pretty much anywhere glassware is sold. To make a lemon twist, use a vegetable peeler, paring knife, or channel knife to peel a strip of zest from a fresh lemon.


  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • ¾ oz honey syrup (see below)
  • 2 oz gin
  • Ice
  • Lemon twist (optional)


  1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice.
  2. Add lemon juice, honey syrup, and gin.
  3. Shake vigorously for 30 seconds, until cocktail shaker has frosted over.
  4. Strain the mixture into the glass of your choice.
  5. Add lemon twist for garnish, if desired. If you have a wide strip of lemon zest, twist it over your cocktail glass to express the lemon oil and add a pop of extra aroma and flavor.

For the Honey Syrup


  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup water


  1. Combine honey and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until honey is dissolved. Allow to cool completely and transfer to an airtight container. Syrup will keep, refrigerated, for up to 1 month.