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How to make a Bee’s Knees cocktail, a drink that fits its name perfectly

You can create a buzz with the honey-kissed cocktail

Bee's Knees with garnish
Dan Baker / The Manual

Like many cocktails of the Prohibition Era, the gin-based Bee’s Knees cocktail was meant to hide something bad rather than showcase something good. Have you ever heard of bathtub gin? There was plenty of it going around in that age, and barkeeps needed a way to hide the questionable quality (and more importantly, the hideous odor) of the spirit.

Barkeeps wanted to keep their illicit enterprises going, after all. Thankfully, as spirits evolved — and were regulated to prevent just anybody from making hooch in their bathtubs — the cocktail got better and better. (As for who created the drink, however, the sole inventor seems to be lost to history.)

Now, the mix of citrus and honey sweetness acts as a good introduction for people who have only previously said, “I don’t like gin.” (If you are one of those people, we’d like to take this opportunity to convince you otherwise … we’re not in bathtub gin territory anymore.) The floral and citrus notes in the gin blend with the other ingredients for an easy-to-drink cocktail that now allows the craft gin to come through without being hidden away.

Now, the drink truly epitomizes its name, which was used during the time to mean the best of the best. And if you can say the name without acting like a Flapper, more power to you.

Bee’s Knees cocktail recipe

Making a Bee's Knees cocktail
Dan Baker / The Manual

The Bee’s Knees cocktail is fairly simple to make. Not surprisingly, considering the name, it features honey as one of the ingredients; after all, you can’t get honey without bees.


  • 2 ounces gin
  • 3/4 ounce lemon juice
  • 3/4 ounce honey syrup
  • Lemon peel, for garnish


  1. Add ice to a shaker glass.
  2. Add the ingredients to the shaker glass.
  3. Shake well.
  4. Strain into a coupe glass.
  5. Garnish with a lemon peel.

Jamaican Honey Bee cocktail recipe

Honey dripping
Mae Mu / Unsplash

If you like the sound of the Bee’s Knees cocktail, but gin isn’t your thing, don’t worry, like most classic cocktails, there are a number of variations to allow you to use your favorite spirit (or just whatever you have on hand). One example of this is the Jamaican Honey Bee cocktail, which swaps out the gin for Jamaican rum.

(Recipe from


  • 2 ounces Jamaican rum
  • 1/2 ounce lemon juice (freshly squeezed is preferred)
  • 1/2 ounce honey syrup


  1. Combine all the ingredients into a mixing glass.
  2. Fill the mixing glass three-quarters full with ice cubes.
  3. Cover the glass with a shaking tin and shake vigorously for 15 seconds.
  4. Using both a cocktail strainer and a fine-mesh strainer at the same time and double strain the mixture into a cocktail glass and serve.
Sam Slaughter
Sam Slaughter was the Food and Drink Editor for The Manual. Born and raised in New Jersey, he’s called the South home for…
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