Bee's Knees Drink: Cocktail Recipe With Gin History Included
Skip to main content

Join our newsletter to get daily gin deals sent straight to your email!


More to Enjoy

  • Whiskey Raiders
  • Tequila Raiders
  • Rum Raiders

Bee’s Knees Cocktail: Make This Easy, Delicious Gin Drink While Reading up on Its History

This Bee’s Knees drink is both incredibly easy to make and delicious! Plus, read up on some gin and cocktail history while you sip your drink. (Photo: Anna Pyshniuk/Pexels)

A Bee’s Knees drink is one of gin’s easiest cocktails to make alongside a gin and tonic and a dry martini. This sweet-and-sour sipper consists of two ingredients (besides your favorite gin) that you may already have on hand: honey and freshly squeezed lemon juice. Of course, bottled lemon juice can be used, but then you may not get to garnish your drink with a cute little lemon twist.

Still, work with the ingredients you have available to you and know that in about 5 minutes, you’ll have an easy-drinking gin cocktail in hand.

Let’s make a Bee’s Knees!

Bee’s Knees Cocktail Recipe

  • 2 oz. Gin of choice
  • 1/2 oz. Lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. Honey syrup*
  • Garnish: Lemon twist*

First, place a cocktail glass in the freezer — usually a Bee’s Knees is presented in a Coupe glass. Then, combine all your ingredients (besides the garnish!) into a cocktail shaker full of ice. Shake hard for about 30 seconds and strain your drink into your now-chilled cocktail glass. Garnish your cocktail with a lovely lemon twist and enjoy!

*Honey syrup: the reason honey syrup is used instead of just honey is that honey alone will not dissolve properly in a chilled cocktail. To make quick honey syrup, take a two-to-one ratio of honey to water and microwave it for about 30-40 seconds. Give it a stir until the honey has completely dissolved. A small measurement of honey syrup can be made this way by using four tablespoons of honey with two tablespoons of water.

*Lemon twist: a twist is made by running a vegetable peeler across the flesh of citrus fruit to yield a strip of citrus skin of desired length. You can then wrap the twist around a bar spoon or metal skewer in a spiral shape, hold it there for a brief moment, and gently slide it off. This will give your twist an actual twist shape! Optionally, you can gently squeeze, or “express,” the twist over your cocktail to get an extra burst of citrus oil to add a layer of fresh complexity to your drink.

Bee’s Knees and Gin History

Let’s take a look at the Bee’s Knees drink and its Prohibition-era origins, now that you have one in hand! Or, you can close the tab this article rests in and go on your merry way. Either way, we’ll still be here for you.

During the Prohibition era of the 1920s, gin ranked supreme, and almost any cocktail that one could get their hands on was most likely made with bootleg gin that someone stirred up in their bathtub. Don’t worry, soap and suds were not a part of the mix.

But why “bathtub gin”? Well, since prohibition means a ban on the production, enjoyment and selling of alcohol, people had to get clever if they wanted to imbibe. Gin is one of the easiest and cheapest spirits to make and only requires a neutral-grain spirit (think vodka, but probably a little harsher to knock back) and a juniper flavoring component (usually juniper oil).

Juniper was used simply because it is a crucial part of what makes gin and people expected something that’s called gin to taste like, well, gin. More on the history of gin’s origins can be found here. And if you’d like to know why gin is flavored like juniper, go here.

So, any committed individual during this time of prohibition would be able to covertly make a bounty of drinkable (but perhaps not the tastiest) alcohol using the aforementioned ingredients and a readily available large vessel — a bathtub. Since gin was so accessible to make, it was the top dog of the 1920s cocktail world. And thanks to gin’s popularity, many classic cocktails emerged.

Introducing the Bee’s Knees cocktail!

The Bee’s Knees cocktail is most commonly believed to have originated in the early 1920s when Frank Meier anecdotally invented it. Meier was an Austrian-born, part-Jewish bartender who worked as the Ritz in Paris’ first head bartender in 1921 when the location opened its “Cafe Parisian.” Some origin stories claim that honey was selected as an ingredient to mask the taste of harsh bootleg gin.

A second account of the cocktail’s emergence comes from a news article published in 1929, stating that the American socialite Margaret Brown invented the drink. Regardless of whoever truly made the first Bee’s Knees, someone deserves a firm handshake.

Today, Bee’s Knees are still heartily enjoyed and there’s even an entire week dedicated to the tasty cocktail. Bee’s Knees Week was first launched in 2017 by Caledonia Spirits, producer of Barr Hill Gin.

In 2022, the event ran from Sept. 23 – Oct. 2 and is currently known as the largest sustainability initiative in the spirits industry. Participants are asked to enjoy a Bee’s Knees cocktail at a bar or make one at home, snap a photo of the cocktail and share it online with the hashtag “#beeskneesweek” while tagging Barr Hill by Caledonia Spirits. Barr Hill plants 10 sq/ft of new pollinator habitat for every social media post.

Now, we only hope someone can get the ball rolling on “Aviation Cocktail Week.” We’re waiting.


Read next:

5 Best Gins for Beginners

What Is Rail Gin? Everything You Need to Know About a Bartender’s Go-To Spirit

7 Must-Try Gins for an Aviation Cocktail

Here at Gin Raiders, we do more than write about current events in gin and spirits. We are the only media property reviewing gins and aggregating the scores and reviews of other significant voices in the gin world in one place. If you’re interested in getting a shot of gin in your morning email, sign up for our Deal of the Day newsletter.

This post may contain affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site. This helps support Gin Raiders at no additional cost to you.

Filed Under:

Follow Gin Raiders:

Candie Getgen is the managing editor for Gin Raiders. Before immersing herself in the world of spirits journalism, Candie has been many things: a bartender, a literary journal editor, an English teacher — and even a poet. Now, Candie shares her passion for gin with the world and hopes to help others fall in love with it, too (if they haven't already!). When not writing, Candie enjoys sipping an extra-dry martini while painting or relaxing by the pool with a campy mystery novel.