For me, certain cocktails are inexorably linked to points in time and space. The Daiquiri is linked, in my mind, to the thriving nightlife of Cuba in the 1930’s. The Martini to the 1980’s. The Cosmo will forever be tied to Sex in the City and, going forward, the Bee’s Knees will be the cocktail linked to the Flappers of the 1920’s.
The term bee’s knees originated as flapper slang. Other notables from that era that survive include “the cat’s meow” and “the big cheese”. I digress. The Bee’s Knees reminds me of a time when spirits were of poor quality (Prohibition). Think “bathtub gin” and masking their flavors was priority number one in cocktail creation. This cocktail, however, does that subtly, without over-masking the flavors of the spirits.
Bee's Knees (Cocktail Hacker)
2 oz Gin 3/4 oz Honey Syrup 3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1) Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice 2) Shake until well chilled 3) Strain into a chilled cocktail glass
Some notes. First, honey syrup is super simple. One part water, one part honey, shake, done. Next, note the ratio of lemon to syrup. The 1:1 ratio is key on this one. That ratio balances the sweet and sour perfectly. For a sweeter or drier cocktail you can increase or decrease both ingredients, just keep them in balance.
So, what’s the long and short on this cocktail? It’s great. The gin comes through as the clear star. Go with a complex gin, you’ll be well rewarded. As for the honey, my first suggestion is to go with something local. You’ll get the flavors of your terroir, to be pompous, and you’ll be supporting local business. Though, if you’re feeling bold, try a varietal honey like orange flower or clover. Though, be prepared with an equally bold gin to stand up to the honey’s flavor.
In summary, this drink really is the Bee’s Knees. Okay, that was lame, but give this cocktail a try. It’s good, I promise.