Bees Knees Cocktail Guide

Bees Knees Cocktail Guide: History, Recipe, Variations & Pairings

The Bees Knees cocktail emerged during the Roaring Twenties, an era known for its exuberance and cultural transformation. This period saw a surge in nightlife, jazz music, and innovative cocktails. Amidst the glittering nightlife, the Bees Knees became a symbol of sophistication and modernity. You would often find this drink at jazz clubs and speakeasies, where patrons sought both excitement and elegance in their beverages. This historical context amplifies the cocktail’s charm, tying it to an age of opulence and rebellion.

Prohibition and the Rise of Gin Cocktails

During Prohibition (1920-1933) in the United States, the production and sale of alcohol were illegal, leading to a rise in speakeasies and homemade spirits. Gin, often easier to produce illicitly, became a popular base for cocktails designed to mask the rough edges of poorly made spirits. The Bees Knees cocktail, with its blend of gin, honey syrup, and lemon juice, provided a perfect balance to obscure any harsh flavors and deliver a smooth, enjoyable drink. This necessity-driven creativity led to the birth of many classic gin cocktails, making the Bees Knees an enduring part of cocktail history.

Ingredients of the Bees Knees Cocktail

The Role of Honey in Sweetening the Mix

Honey syrup serves as the sweetening agent in the Bees Knees cocktail. Transform honey into syrup by mixing equal parts honey and hot water, which makes it easier to blend with other liquids. Honey syrup not only sweetens the drink but also adds a rich, floral note.

Why Lemon Juice Adds the Perfect Tang

Lemon juice provides the necessary tang to balance the cocktail’s sweetness. Freshly squeezed lemon juice is recommended for the best flavor. The citrus notes cut through the sweetness of the honey, creating a well-rounded profile.

Choosing the Right Gin

Gin forms the base of the Bees Knees cocktail. Opt for a London Dry Gin to maintain authenticity. Gins with a strong juniper presence work well, although some prefer floral or citrus-forward gins for a unique twist.

How to Make the Perfect Bees Knees Cocktail

Step-by-Step Preparation

To create the perfect Bees Knees cocktail, follow these precise steps:

  1. Gather Ingredients: Ensure you have 2 oz of gin, 3/4 oz of honey syrup, and 3/4 oz of fresh lemon juice. Quality ingredients will significantly enhance your cocktail’s flavor.
  2. Prepare Honey Syrup: Combine equal parts honey and warm water. Stir until fully dissolved. This blend allows better integration of honey into the cocktail.
  3. Juice the Lemon: Squeeze fresh lemon juice. Avoid using bottled juice for a fresher, brighter taste.
  4. Combine Ingredients: Pour the gin, honey syrup, and lemon juice into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Fresh ice ensures proper chilling and dilution.
  5. Shake Vigorously: Shake the mixture for about 15 seconds. Vigorous shaking ensures ingredients are well combined and chilled.
  6. Strain and Serve: Strain the mixture into a chilled coupe or martini glass. Straining keeps the cocktail smooth, free from ice shards.
  1. Choose the Right Gin: Opt for London Dry Gin for a classic taste or select floral or citrus gins to add unique twists. The gin’s profile sets the cocktail’s foundation.
  2. Adjust Sweetness: Tailor the honey syrup level to your preference. Start with 3/4 oz and increase slightly if desired. The goal is a balanced sweetness without overpowering.
  3. Use Fresh Ingredients: Always use fresh lemon juice and high-quality honey. Fresh produce imparts livelier, more vibrant flavors.
  4. Mind Temperature: Serve the Bees Knees cocktail well-chilled. Proper chilling ensures a refreshing drink from start to finish.
  5. Experiment with Garnishes: Enhance the visual appeal and aroma with a lemon twist or edible flowers. Garnishes add a personal touch and elevate the overall experience.

This approach ensures a perfectly balanced Bees Knees cocktail every time.

Variations of the Bees Knees Cocktail

Modern Twists on a Classic Recipe

Explore modern twists that bring a new dimension to the classic Bees Knees cocktail. One popular variation uses lavender-infused honey syrup, which adds a floral note that pairs well with the gin and lemon juice. Another option is to substitute the gin with a flavored variant like elderflower or cucumber gin, giving the cocktail an intriguing twist. Some recipes incorporate herbs like rosemary or thyme, muddled together with the lemon juice, adding depth and complexity. For a richer taste, consider using orange blossom honey instead of regular honey syrup. Each twist adds a unique flavor profile, elevating the cocktail while respecting its roots.

Non-Alcoholic Versions for Everyone

Create non-alcoholic versions to ensure everyone can enjoy the essence of the Bees Knees cocktail. Substitute the gin with a zero-proof spirit or a combination of sparkling water and tonic for a refreshing base. Use the same honey syrup and lemon juice to maintain the original flavor profile. Add a splash of orange juice or bitters to enhance the complexity of the drink. For a more sophisticated touch, garnish with edible flowers or fresh herbs. These adaptations make it easy to enjoy a sophisticated, alcohol-free Bees Knees cocktail without compromising on taste.

Pairing Foods with the Bees Knees Cocktail

Ideal Appetizers

Choose light, fresh starters to complement the Bees Knees cocktail’s vibrant flavors. Opt for options like bruschetta topped with tomatoes and basil. The acidity of tomatoes echoes the cocktail’s lemon juice, enhancing the refreshing experience. Smoked salmon on crackers works well. The fish’s delicate, smoky notes pair elegantly with the sweet honey syrup and citrus. Caprese skewers with cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil also make an excellent choice. Their simple, clean flavors match the cocktail’s brightness.

Best Meals for a Complete Experience

Serve meals that balance and enhance the Bees Knees cocktail without overpowering it. Grilled fish dishes, such as lemon herb salmon, align with the cocktail’s citrus notes, creating a harmonious palate. Chicken piccata, which features lemon and capers, matches the drink’s zesty profile. For vegetarian options, consider a lemon risotto. Its creamy texture and tangy flavor complement the cocktail. A well-rounded meal featuring these dishes can elevate the overall dining experience when paired with the Bees Knees cocktail.


The Bees Knees cocktail isn’t just a drink; it’s a journey back to an era of elegance and rebellion. With the right ingredients and a bit of creativity, you can craft a cocktail that’s both timeless and modern. Whether you stick to the classic recipe or experiment with new variations, the Bees Knees offers a unique blend of flavors that can be tailored to your taste. Pair it with the right appetizers and meals to elevate your experience even further. So, gather your ingredients, follow the guide, and enjoy a sophisticated sip of history with every glass.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *