Perfect for Father’s Day. Because Dad is, well, the bee’s knees.
In the US, Father’s Day is this Sunday, the 19th. If you’re searching for an appropriate celebratory drink, look no further.
This cocktail is a charmer. Not to mention a terrific thirst quencher for the hot weather we’re having now in much of the country.
“Bee’s knees” was 1920s flapper slang for “the best.” And this drink – like Dad – is.
Recipe: The Bee’s Knees Cocktail
The Bee’s Knees combines gin with fresh lemon juice and honey simple syrup.
No honey simple syrup on hand? Worry not, it’s easy to make (we include instructions in the Notes). If you don’t want to make a whole batch for just one drink, we also include instructions for substituting honey and water (do note, though, that honey simple syrup is also good in iced tea).
The Bee’s Knees is a close cousin of The White Lady Cocktail. Like that drink, the Bee’s Knees traditionally is served “up” – that is, shaken with ice and strained into a cocktail glass. But we think it tastes better served on the rocks, in an Old-Fashioned glass. So that’s how we make it.
This recipe takes about 5 minutes to prepare, and serves 1.
- 2 ounces dry gin
- 1 ounce fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- 1 ounce honey simple syrup (see Notes for instructions and substitutions)
- 1 dash orange bitters (optional and not traditional, but really good)
- garnish of orange slice or wedge
- Combine all ingredients (except garnish) in a cocktail shaker half-filled with ice. Shake vigorously until well chilled (about 20 seconds).
- Strain the contents of the shaker into a rocks (Old-Fashioned) glass filled with ice. Garnish with an orange slice or wedge. Add a pair of straws and serve.
- To make honey simple syrup: Measure out equal quantities of honey and water (say, ½ cup of each). Place the honey in a heat-proof bowl. Heat the water until hot (it doesn’t have to be boiling; a microwave works well for this). Combine the hot water with the honey, and stir until the honey is dissolved. Pour the syrup into a squeeze bottle or an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Honey simple syrup is a variation on ordinary simple syrup (you can read about in this post), which is made by dissolving sugar in an equal quantity of water.
- If you don’t want to make an entire batch of honey simple syrup for this cocktail, you can substitute honey and hot water: Add a tablespoon each of honey and hot water to a cocktail shaker before you begin mixing the drink. Stir until the honey is dissolved. Then add the ice, gin, lemon juice, and bitters (if using). Shake, then strain into an ice-filled rocks glass.
- If you prefer to serve this drink up, we suggest using 2 ounces of gin, but reducing the lemon juice and simple syrup to ½ ounce each. Omit the orange bitters. This recipe yields a drier drink with a more gin-forward flavor. We think this version works better in a cocktail glass.
- Orange bitters aren’t traditional in this cocktail. But they work extremely well when you serve this drink on the rocks. Most good liquor stores stock them. BTW, don't substitute Angostura bitters — their flavor is wrong for this drink.
- BTW, don’t omit the orange garnish. An extra hit of orange adds appreciably to this drink.
- Speaking of which, if you happen to have orange blossom honey on hand, that would be a great choice for making the honey simple syrup.
- When a cocktail recipe specifies gin, it’s usually understood to mean dry gin. “London” dry gin is the most common style (it originally was distilled in London), but there are other styles of dry gin that are fairly similar (Plymouth gin, for example). Don’t stress about whether a particular gin is London dry. Just buy a decent dry gin with a name label.
- The Bee’s Knees Cocktail dates (as you might have guessed) to the 1920s. Which was, of course, the era of Prohibition in the US.
- If you substitute white rum for gin in this drink, you’ve made a Honeysuckle.
- If you substitute Jamaican dark rum, you’ll have a Honey Bee.
Hitting on all Sixes
“Mmmm,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “This drink could turn me into a flapper.”
“That’d be swell, doll face,” I said.
“So, are we doing 1920s slang today, my sheik?” said Mrs K R.
“Yes, my little bearcat,” I said. “Putting this drink to my kisser makes me feel jake.”
“Go chase yourself!” said Mrs K R. “Maybe I should put on my glad rags and we can motor our flivver to the nearest gin mill.”
“We’ve got all the giggle water we need right here,” I said. “Speaking of which, should I mix us another? This drink really is the berries.”
“That’d be the cat’s meow,” said Mrs K R. “But just one more. Otherwise, we could have the heebie-jeebies.”
True. Don’t want to get zozzled.
You may also enjoy reading about:
White Lady Cocktail
El Presidente Cocktail
Queen's Park Swizzle Cocktail
Sloe Gin Fizz
Or check out the index for more
We have all of that giggle water available, including the orange blossom honey. Looks like we'll have the Bee's Knees today!
Hi Lydia, always good to have giggle water on hand. So you can make this. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Flapper slang is so much more interesting than the "bitchin" "gag me with a spoon" or "eat my shorts" phrases I grew up with. Not that I'm insinuating you grew up in the 20s. GREG
Hi Greg, we read a lot, that's how we know the slang. :-) And 20s slang is really interesting, isn't it? So descriptive. Thanks for the comment.
This sounds so refreshing! And I love the idea of honey syrup instead of simple syrup. I'd never heard of it before. Thanks John!
All that slang from the 20s -- so vivid. I really wonder if anyone talked like that. I recently watched the old movie version of "West Side Story" and they DID use all kinds of 50s or 60s slang. It sounded totally unconvincing. Curious!
best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com
Hi Chris, honey syrup is really nice -- great flavor. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Mae, a lot of the "hard-boiled" detective books used that kind of slang. And it certainly was in books of that era. But of course people would just drop a phrase here and there. Nothing as extreme as what Mrs KR and I did. :-) Thanks for the comment.
This sounded very good and I put it to the test immediately. I did substitute the orange bitters for the regular angostura bitters. The result was more than okay. I've been searching for a great cocktail with gin (I'm a tequila avid ^^) and I'm positive I've found it. Not too dry, not too sweet, a perfect combination. Thanks for the recipe!
Hubby likes his scotch but I am more of a cocktail kind of girl and yours looks delicious. I like the honey syrup idea. Prost!
I am going to be seeing my dad next week, so perhaps this is a drink I should concoct for him! ;)
Another great cocktail. I could think of a lot of ways to use that honey simple syrup!
Sounds refreshing! And it's pretty!
Well, this post is the Bee's Knees! I love the citrus mixed in this cocktail. Lemon and oranges are so refreshing in the heat of the summer. I also love the orange slices as a garish, it must really add to the flavor of the drink. Great info on this drink and I always laugh and smile when I read what you and Mrs. R says...I remember the slang "the cat's meow." Enjoy your weekend!
Bahaha! Love the flapper conversation! I've never made a honey simple syrup and I don't think I've had it in a drink. I'm really curious about trying the Bees Knees.
Thanks so much for sharing
Hi Nathalie, yup Angostura bitters wouldn't work well (if at all) in this drink). IMO. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Gerlinde, Prost! Honey syrup is really good -- such fun flavor. Thanks for the comment.
Hi GiGi, you should! He'll love it. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Laura, honey simple syrup is wonderful stuff! We have some in the refrigerator right now. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Mimi, it IS pretty, isn't it? And such lovely flavor! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Dottie, 20s slang is fun, isn't it? As is this drink! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Julie, honey simple syrup is good stuff -- and so easy to make. As is flapper conversations. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Well, this is definitely the cat's meow! I love dry gin with just about anything and have to try this! Woo hoo!
ok, this sounds delicious! Perfect for Summer and why not debut it on Father's Day! Thanks for the recipe John.
LOL, I so enjoy your banter with the Mrs., John. This sounds like the perfect drink for a fun Sunday and we can spend the afternoon coming up with cool names for each other!
A great way to celebrate Dad on his day. Cheers to all wonderful men out there... with this refreshing cocktail!
Will definitely have to toast dad with one of these!
My dad certainly was the bee's knees and I miss him so. He would have loved to try this drink and I am smitten with the sound of that honey simple syrup. Hope you enjoy your father's day John!
Hi Pam, if you like dry gin, you'll love this! You may like the "up" version better -- worth trying them both. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Lea Ann, this is such a nice drink -- definitely worth a try. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Robyn, we really enjoy writing that banter. :-) And testing the recipes, of course! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Denise, heck this drink is so good it's worth toasting anyone on any day. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Pamela, you will, you will! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Tricia, honey syrup is truly good stuff. And so easy to make! Thanks for the comment.
This looks so refreshing and pretty. Lovely share :-)
You always come up with the most unique drinks. Too bad I don't drink that much although I should print these all out and start a book. Then when company comes I can pretend I actually know what I'm doing when creating drinks.
This is right up my hubby's alley. He loves his gin! Perfect Father's Day treat I'll be making him for sure!
Hi Kushi, isn't this a lovely drink? And SO good! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Vicki, I just look up recipes in a chromebook. Easier than printing them out. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Kristy, he'll love this! Since he's a gin lover, bet he'd enjoy the "up" version too -- you really taste the gin in that one. Thanks for the comment.
My girlfriend would always compliment me by saying, "This is way better than the bee's knees!" Now I know and I also know I can't wait to get zozzled with one!
Hi Abbe, LOL! If you get zozzled, just make sure you don't get the heebie-jeebies. :-) Thanks for the comment.
This really does sound like such a refreshing cocktail. We haven't hit the high note when it comes to heat yet here in PA but when we do, this drink will be on the menu!
Slang is so colorful sometimes isn't it John. Personally, I love diner slang but 20s slang is right up there too!
Thank you so much for sharing, John...
Hi John, the bee's knees used to be one of my grandma's favorite sayings so as you can guess it's one of my favorites too, did not know there was a drink called the same thing, love it!!!!
Hi Louise, you're right about diner slang -- it's the best. Or I should say, the bee's knees :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Cheri, you know you're going to have to try this. You just gotta. :-) Thanks for the comment.
You are so funny. I like the sound of this drink. I think I may have told you before, but I love the drink photography.
Hi Madonna, we love writing those endings. :-) And thanks for the kind comment.
Gin, lemon juice, honey....why this cocktail is almost medicinal! LOVE this drink. I bet it's so smooth. And lord knows we could all use a little giggle juice these days! Thanks for sharing this! : )
As you know I cannot resist any cocktail that have gin it...since I loved the white lady, I will definitely try this one...like the honey in it!
Hope you are having a great week John :)
Hi Anne, this is medicinal! :-) And finally, medicine that tastes good. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Juliana, the honey adds such nice flavor! And it's a bit different. Thanks for the comment.
I love gin cocktails in the summer---and this one sounds terrific!!!
Hi Liz, gin really is a nice summer drink, isn't it? One of our favorites, too! Thanks for the comment.
I've heard "bee's knees", I used the term, but had no idea where it originated. Cool! And what a cool, easy cocktail. Bobby isn't a dad, but his birthday is Sunday and I think this would be a simple cocktail that he would enjoy. I know I would. :) He isn't a big cocktail drinker, but I think he'd enjoy this. Thanks for the idea John!
This sounds like a pleasant way to drink gin (haven't had the taste for it since an unfortunate incident 😜 with gin martini cocktails when I was 18, some 12 odd years ago 😉).
Do you use acrylic ice cubes? Your cocktails never frost up. I just worked on a national brand and we used acrylic ice.
It's so strange that I'd never heard of angostura before last week, we used it to cut Kitchen Bouquet because it adds a bit of warmth when we enhance grill marks!
I love discovering vintage style food and beverages. This one looks like a must, and with our hot weather, rocks is the only way to go.
Hi MJ, Happy Birthday to Bobby! And I do think he'd like this -- it has a pleasant flavor that isn't that boozy. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Eva, I've read Angostura (and Kitchen Boquet) are sometimes used by food stylists to enhance brownness. And yes, I did use acrylic ice cubes in this drink -- just for the reason you mention! I also use warm ingredients for the same reason. The acrylic cubes that the pros use are pricey -- usually handmade, and cost upwards of $10 a cube! Too rich for my blood. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Karen, vintage stuff can be fun, can't it? And this drink is fun! :-) Thanks for the comment.
I love gin-based drinks. And the touch of honey is so perfect with this. Sounds like a drink I'd be happy to imbibe all summer long.
Love all the cocktail names! Food/drink history is so much fun, especially when a celebration happens! Happy Father's Day John!
I like the dash of orange bitters. I infuse a bit of lavender into my honey-syrup for this drink. You have me craving one now!
So ironic..I JUST had a bees knees cocktail when I was in DC last week!! I loved it! I am thinking of recreating it for my blog. It's a great drink!
Hi Carolyn, we love gin too -- such a nice flavor. And yup, this is definitely a drink you can enjoy throughout the summer. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Deb, cocktails have such an interesting history! Always another drink, another story. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Debra, the bitters add a really nice touch. Love the idea of lavender in the syrup -- need to try that. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Ashley, isn't it a nice drink? SO good! Thanks for the comment.
"Feeling Jake"- I never heard that one before! I was a cocktail waitress at the Oakland Airport a long time ago but I couldn't get my head around all of the cocktail terminology. I was fired after a few weeks- too bad since I could have learned a lot. This cocktail sounds perfect for Father's Day!
Hi Fran, 1920s slang is so much fun! SO expressive! And cocktail terminology can be difficult -- so much to learn! Thanks for the comment.
I LOVE the name of this cocktail! So fun. I am *really* looking forward to being able to enjoy a cocktail every now and again soon LOL. This one looks refreshing and tasty.
I really like the idea of adding honey, I'd love to give this a try.
Hi Amy, this is quite refreshing and tasty. A good one to enjoy -- soon. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Caroline, the honey is such a nice touch! Really good stuff. :-) Thanks for the comment.
looks perfectly! Guess I know what I'm gonna serve to my guest next weekend!
The hot and sticky situation out of my front door, gives me reason to try this refreshing summer drink
This sounds so good! I love the simplicity of it, so easy and refreshing.
Yes, they are pricy here too. Where did you buy yours?
Hi Marcela, your guest will be delighted :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Rahul, you certainly live in a hot part of the US! This will cool you off. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Mary, isn't this nice? And SO tasty! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Eva, I got mine at Amazon. They have an inexpensive set. Not terrific quality, but I'm doing this for a hobby. If I needed professional looking ice cubes, I'd probably get them at The Set Shop. This is a NYC outfit that caters to pros. You can order online from them.
Absolutely loving this stunning looking cocktail. We are still in a cold era but I would love to sip this beauty anytime! Simple and refreshing!!!:)
Hi Anu, isn't this pretty? And tastes better than it looks! Thanks for the comment.
I always try to use honey as much as possible and I love its taste. This cocktail looks pretty amazing! I would love a sip or maybe more!
Hi Katerina, honey has a wonderful flavor, doesn't it? Love it in a simple syrup! And this drink. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I went to a foodie gig last night where they introduced a new gin distillery to us, I of course bought a bottle, so I am good to go with this delicious sounding cocktail. YUM!
Hi Anna, always have to try new gins! And this drink, of course. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I'll drink gin anything, really, but when it's fresh like this? I'm 100% going to try it. Love the flavors in here - so summery with the honey simple syrup! Delicious, i'm sure.
Hi Shannon, gin is good stuff, isn't it? Lovely in this -- you'll enjoy. Thanks for the comment.
Gin with honey syrup, lemon juice and a hint of orange?? Sounds really refreshing and definitely going to make one or two of these cocktails soon. Perfect for a hot evening. The awesome 20's slang made me giggle!
Hi Marcelle, 20's slang is so much fun, isn't it? Really descriptive. :-) Thanks for the comment.
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