Bee's Knees Cocktail

The 3-Ingredient Prohibition Drink You'll Want on Repeat

Bee's Knees Cocktail

 The Spruce Eats

Prep: 3 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 3 mins
Serving: 1 serving
Yield: 1 cocktail
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
180 Calories
0g Fat
14g Carbs
0g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1
Amount per serving
Calories 180
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 2mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 14g 5%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 13g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 6mg 30%
Calcium 2mg 0%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 25mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

From a popular phrase used that describes something as excellent, the Bee's Knees is a perfect name for this delicious and brightly flavored classic. The refreshing Prohibition-era cocktail is especially delightful on sunny spring and summer afternoons and very easy to make at home, featuring a simple three-ingredient mix of gin, lemon juice, and honey syrup.

With today's variety of gins, the Bee's Knees is a cocktail with many possibilities. Each gin has its own blend of botanicals, all of which will be accented quite nicely by the lemon and honey. It's a fun cocktail to play around with and every drink offers a unique experience.

Origins of the Bee's Knees

Renowned bartender Frank Meier is credited with creating the Bee's Knees cocktail at the Hotel Ritz Paris in the 1920s. Switching from sugar to honey led to a slightly richer version of the gin sour. Some stories claim that the substitution was made because honey was better at masking the often unpleasant taste and aroma of the gins being made during the heyday of the speakeasy.

Why Bother Making Honey Syrup?

Straight honey is very thick and doesn't mix easily into cold cocktails. Honey syrup fixes that issue by diluting honey with water to make the natural sweetener more fluid. The typical ratio is 2 or 3 parts honey to 1 part water, stirred to a uniform consistency. It stores as well as simple syrup and you can make as much as you like at one time.

Tips for Making the Very Best Bee's Knees

Because there are only three ingredients, fresh lemon juice is essential for the Bee's Knees. Bottled varieties are often sweetened and will throw off the drink's delicate balance of flavors. Feel free to adjust the sweet and sour ingredients to your personal taste.

You'll likely want to tweak the ingredient ratios with each new gin you pour. For instance, a juniper-forward London dry gin is often best with a little less citrus (as in the recipe). When pouring a softer gin, you might want to boost the tartness with more lemon juice.

Finally, a fresh lemon twist makes an excellent garnish. Gently squeeze it over the cocktail to express the oils and give it a bright pop of flavor.


Click Play to See This Bee's Knees Recipe Come Together

"This recipe is true to the bee’s knees recipe and an excellent starting point. Try the variations because this cocktail will teach you how to taste through flavors, and help you understand your personal palate. What gin you choose—London Dry, New World, or even Old Tom—greatly affects the final product." —Sean Johnson

A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 2 ounces gin

  • 3/4 ounce honey syrup

  • 1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for bee's knees cocktail

    The Spruce

  2. In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, pour the gin, honey syrup, and lemon juice.

    Gin being poured in a cocktail shaker

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  3. Shake well.

    Cocktail shaker
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  4. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Serve and enjoy.

    Bee's knees cocktail being poured into a glass

    The Spruce

Recipe Variations

  • Some modern versions of the Bee's kKnees replace the lemon juice with sour mix, a citrus-flavored simple syrup commonly used in bars. When making the switch, try a mix of 2 ounces of gin, 1 1/2 ounces of sour mix, and 1 ounce of honey. It works really well with fruit-forward and floral gins.
  • The Bee's Knees cocktail is wonderful with vodka if you prefer that over gin.
  • Give the sweetener a floral tone. Lavender honey syrup is a fantastic choice, or you can replace a portion of the honey syrup with an elderflower liqueur.

How Strong Is the Bee's Knees?

As with many classic cocktails, the Bee's Knees is not a light drink. Its alcohol content falls around 21 percent ABV (42 proof). That's about average for this style of cocktail.