Bee's Knees

Difford's Guide
Discerning Drinkers (283 ratings)

Serve in a

Coupe glass

Photographed in a

Speakeasy Coupe 8.5oz

Garnish:

Orange zest twist

How to make:

SHAKE all ingredients with ice and fine strain into chilled glass.

Alternatively, if making with raw honey (rather than syrup), STIR 4 spoons honey with 22.5ml (¾oz) lemon juice and 10ml (⅓oz) orange juice in base of shaker until honey is dissolved. Add 60ml (2oz gin), SHAKE with ice and fine strain into chilled glass.

2 fl oz Hayman's London Dry Gin
3/4 fl oz Lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
1/2 fl oz Honey syrup (3 honey to 1 water)
1/3 fl oz Orange juice (freshly squeezed)
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Review:

The combination of honey and lemon suggests flu relief but don't wait for an ailment before trying this soothing concoction.

The beneficial addition of a splash of orange juice to a Bee's Knees (classically it's just gin, lemon and honey) comes from David Embury's 1948 book The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks where he says, "The addition of a small amount of orange juice makes for an interesting variation".

Variant:

With light white rum in place of gin, this drink becomes a Honeysuckle, and with Jamaican rum, it becomes a Honey Bee

History:

For years, thanks to David A. Embury, the Bee's Knees was thought to have emerged in America during Prohibition when it was said the lemon juice and honey in this cocktail masked the poor quality of gin. However, the Bee's Knees actually originated on the other side of the Atlantic in Paris, France.

Early in the book I spoke in disparaging terms of the Bee's Knees. This, however, was because as it originally came out during prohibition days it consisted of equal parts of lemon juice, honey, and gin. If made as a variation of the standard Gin Sour, merely substituting honey for the sugar syrup, it is acceptable.

David A. Embury, The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, 1948

Cocktail historian Jared Brown uncovered an article in the 22nd April 1929 edition of the Standard Union from Brooklyn, New York, which reports on the then-latest trend in Paris for women's-only bars. The penultimate paragraph says, "The Bee's Knees is an invention of Mrs JJ Brown of Denver and Paris, widow of the famous miner, and is a rather sweet combination including honey and lemon."

Mrs Margaret Brown (born Margaret Tobin in 1867 and married to James Joseph Brown in 1886) was an American socialite and philanthropist who, since her death in 1932, has become better known as "The Unsinkable Molly Brown". Her colourful life, including surviving the Titanic disaster (hence her nickname), was re-enacted in the 1960 Broadway musical and subsequent 1964 film.

The parenthood of the Bee's Knees by this partying American millionairess' is challenged by the Bee's Knees' first appearance in a cocktail tome, the French 1929 Cocktails de Paris where its creation is credited to Frank Meier, head bartender at the Hôtel Ritz Paris.

BEES' KNEES
1/6 jus de citron
1/6 Miel
Faire ce mélange avant
2/3 Gordon's dry gin
Frapper le tout
Frank Meier, Bar de Ritz.

Cocktails de Paris, 1929

This French book and the newspaper crediting Mrs Margaret Brown were both published in 1929 and both confirm Paris as being the birthplace of the Bee's Knees. Perhaps Meier made the cocktail for The Unsinkable Molly Brown who was bound to have been a patron of the Ritz. He perhaps made it at her suggestion.

Frank Meier's ownership is reasserted in his 1936 book, The Artistry of Mixing Drinks, where the recipe is accompanied by a design that signifies the recipe was one of his own.

Bees' Knees
In shaker: the juice of one-quarter Lemon, a teaspoon of Honey, one-half glass of Gin; shake well and serve.

Frank Meier, The Artistry of Mixing Drinks, 1936

Nutrition:

One serving of Bee's Knees contains 175 calories.

Alcohol content:

  • 1.4 standard drinks
  • 18.54% alc./vol. (37.08° proof)
  • 19.9 grams of pure alcohol
Difford's Guide remains free-to-use thanks to the support of the brands in green above. Values stated for alcohol and calorie content, and number of drinks an ingredient makes should be considered approximate.

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Buy direct from
the_whisky_exchange store logo
£ -.--

Makes a minimum of ... cocktails
Just £ -.-- per cocktail*

* This list may not include all required ingredients.
Price per cocktail is an estimate based on the cost of making one cocktail with the available ingredients shown above and does not include any postage charges.
Buy direct from Difford’s Guide
Difford's Easy Jigger
£8.72 £8.72 exc VAT
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