Bee’s Knees Origins

The Bee’s Knees is an odd English idiom. It means something that is excellent. However, why this phrase is used in this way is unclear. It is in use since the early 1920s. There are several other creature related phrases from that time that carry a similar meaning. For instance, the cat’s whiskers and the dog’s bollocks.

The Bee’s Knees is also a Prohibition-era cocktail. It is a gin cocktail that adds lemon and honey to the spirit. The ingredients were probably added to hide the smell of the illicit hooch. However, the cocktail remains an excellent example of a sour. It is light, refreshing, and not sour.

Bee’s Knees Recipe

I was inspired to make a Bee’s Knees because our lemon tree was laden with fruit. I know the saying is “When life gives you lemons make lemonade”. However, I prefer “When life gives you lemons make cocktails”. The other ingredients mask the subtle flavours of gin. So do not use your best gin.

Honey Syrup

>3oz honey
1oz hot water

Combine the honey and hot water. Stir until mixed. Allow to cool.

The cocktail

2oz Gin (I used Tanqueray No Ten)
1oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
1oz honey syrup

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice.
Add the ingredients
Pour into a chilled cocktail glass


    • David Reply

      I used Trader Joe’s Turkish honey. Which is described thus: “Produced by bees foraging nectar from primarily Rock Rose, Citrus, Wildflowers, and Turkish Pines”.
      The result was a subtle hint of floral notes that enhanced this cocktail

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