How To Make A Bee’s Knees Cocktail

By Ellie Smith

1 week ago

The origins of the gin tipple, plus an easy recipe


A G&T isn’t for everyone – but there are plenty of other ways to enjoy gin. Come summertime, the Bee’s Knees cocktail is always a popular drink, with its lemon-infused taste and yellow/orange hue. It’s simple to make and works well for garden parties; here’s how to whizz up your own at home.

What Is A Bee’s Knees Cocktail?

The Bee’s Knees is a cocktail made with just three key ingredients: gin, lemon juice and honey. It is an extension of the Gin Sour, a blend of gin, lemon and sugar. 

Who Invented It?

The origins of this drink are widely debated. Some believe the Bee’s Knees was created in America during the Prohibition era of the 1920s, but most agree it was born in Paris. It’s often attributed to an Austrian-born bartender called Frank Meier, who moved to the French capital to become head bartender at Café Parisian at the Ritz Hotel. Meier reasserted this in his 1936 book The Artistry of Mixing Drinks, in which he includes his original recipe.

Which Gin Should You Use?

Even if you’re partial to a flavoured gin, bartenders recommend leaving pretty pinks and citrus-infused blends behind here and opting for a classic gin, as the honey brings a sweetness of its own. Be sure to pick a good-quality gin, as this drink only has a couple of other ingredients, so the taste will shine through – a London Dry Gin will work well.

Where Did The Phrase ‘The Bee’s Knees’ Come From?

This drink is named after the common ‘bee’s knees’ phrase, which is used to describe something as top-tier. But where did the saying come from? Do bees even have knees? Well, like all insects, they do – but the origin of the phrase is unclear. Some think it’s a reference to the active knees of 1920s dancer Bee Jackson, who popularised the Charleston, while others think it’s about the goodness of the pollen load carried on a bee’s back legs. Others say the term was coined by an American cartoonist named Tad Dorgan back in the 20s, also known for using phrases like ‘the cat’s pajamas’.

Bee’s Knees Cocktail Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 60ml No. 3 London Dry Gin
  • 25ml lemon juice
  • 25ml honey water (equal parts honey to water)
  • 1 orange

Method:

  1. Shake all ingredients, and strain into a chilled coupette glass.
  2. Garnish with an orange twist.

Recipe from No. 3 Gin