Bee’s Knees Cocktail

The perfect combination of tart, sweet, and refreshing – the Bee’s Knees Cocktail is made with gin, fresh-squeezed lemon juice, and homemade honey syrup!

Today’s recipe is the bee’s knees! Literally. I mean, kind of? Erm, we’re going to be making the Bee’s Knees Cocktail, one of my favorite Prohibition-era drinks! I mean, we all have ‘em, right??!? J/k!

You’ll find that the Bee’s Knees cocktail recipe is bright, refreshing, and a tasty balance of tart lemon and sweet honey. Ready to make your new favorite cocktail? Let’s shake this!

Two photos showing How to make a Bee’s Knees Cocktail – straining cocktail into a glass 

Bee’s Knees Cocktail Ingredients

  • Gin – use your favorite gin, I use Bombay Sapphire Gin.
  • Lemon Juice – bottled is okay, but fresh-squeezed lemon juice is truly best for the Bee’s Knees cocktail
  • Honey Syrup – I make a quick, 5 min recipe for honey syrup, then store it in the fridge for all of my honey cocktail recipes.

What is a Bee’s Knees Cocktail

The Bee’s Knees cocktail is a gin-based, Prohibition-era cocktail made with honey syrup and lemon juice.

It’s also a refreshing and summery blend of sweet and tart flavors that balances well with gin.

Put simply, a Bee’s Knees is a Gold Rush made with gin. Or, a Whiskey Sour made with honey and gin.

Two photos showing How to make this drink recipe – adding garnish 

The History of the Bee’s Knees Cocktail

Although no one is quite sure who invented the Bee’s Knees cocktail, it is said to have been invented by Frank Meier, the head bartender at the Hôtel Ritz Paris in 1921. [1]

Meier was the first head bartender at the Ritz, which later became famous for Bar Hemingway, one of the most well-known bars in the world.

Eight years later, a 1929 news article credits the Bee’s Knees cocktail to American socialite Margaret Brown.

No matter who invented this drink, the name and the concoction remain the same: “Bee’s Knees” refers to Prohibition-era slang for “the best,” similar to “That’s the berries” or “cats meow.” [2]

A funny side note, “quilt” meant a warming drink, and “let’s blouse” meant “we’re leaving.”

Meanwhile, is it said that during the Prohibition, honey and lemon were often used in gin-based drinks to cover up the bitterness and smell of bathtub-made gin (aka bathtub gin). [3]

The Importance of Making Honey Syrup

Why make honey syrup for the bees knees cocktail when you can just add a dollop of syrup straight into the cocktail shaker? Welp, straight-up honey just solidifies once it comes into contact with cold temperatures. As such, we’re going to make a super simple honey syrup that’s literally just two ingredients stirred together on a stovetop. Bonus? You get to use your leftover honey syrup in fancy cocktail recipes like the Penicillin Cocktail and the Gold Rush Cocktail.

Jar of homemade honey syrup, a key ingredients in the bees knees cocktail

How to Make a Bee’s Knees Cocktail

  1. First thing you want to do before making a this cocktail is checking to make sure you have honey syrup. If not, make this super simple, 5-minute recipe for honey syrup.
  2. Then, fill a cocktail shaker about halfway with ice. Next, pour in all Bee’s Knees cocktail ingredients: gin, fresh lemon juice, and honey syrup.
  3. Now, shake the shaker until all ingredients are very well mixed and chilled. Then, strain this cocktail mixture into a coupe glass.
  4. Pinch a lemon twist over the cocktail to express the oils over the cocktail. Then hang a new lemon twist on the rim of the coupe glass. Sip and enjoy the best Bee’s Knees cocktail recipe!

Bees Knees Variations

  • Make it sweeter: add in more honey than the recipe calls for–you deserve a sweet treat!
  • Replace the gin: not a fan of gin? Try subbing the gin with vodka.
  • Use Lavender: this beautifully violet flower is everywhere right now (I see you, Starbucks!), so try infusing lavender into your honey syrup for a Lavender Bees Knees.
  • Grapefruit Bees Knees: if you love grapefruit-based cocktails like Salty Dog Cocktail and Greyhound Drink, try subbing the lemon juice in the Bees Knees with grapefruit for a refreshing, tart twist.
A photo showing How to make a Bee’s Knees Cocktail – expressing oil out of lemon garnish into glass

More Recipes

Tools You Need

It’s the Bees Knees!

Be honest, you like “bee’s knees” better that “cat’s meow.” Me too. Heh heh. Either way, if you make this recipe, take a pic and share it on Instagram and Facebook, tagging me at @beamingbaker and #beamingbaker. I can’t wait!

Sending you all my love and maybe even a dove, xo Demeter ❤️

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Bee's Knees Cocktail in a glass with a cocktail garnish

Bee’s Knees Cocktail

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5 from 9 reviews


The perfect combination of tart, sweet, and refreshing – the Bee’s Knees Cocktail is made with gin, fresh-squeezed lemon juice, and homemade honey syrup!



Tools Needed

Bee’s Knees Cocktail Ingredients


  • Lemon twist


  1. Add gin, lemon juice, and honey syrup to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Learn how to make honey syrup.
  2. Shake until very chilled, about 20-30 seconds.
  3. Strain into a coupe glass.
  4. Pinch the lemon twist to squeeze and express (release) oils over the cocktail. Hang the lemon twist on the rim of the glass. Sip and enjoy.
  • Prep Time: 2 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Category: Cocktail
  • Method: Shake
  • Cuisine: American

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  1. Love the name and the photos are so pretty! And honey and lemon are obviously a match made in heaven, thanks for the recipe!

  2. Great cocktail recipe! Simple to make yet very satisfying! I added a bit of agave nectar to it as well and the result was fantastic!

  3. Beautiful! It’s a perfect spring/summer cocktail for enjoying while sitting in the sunshine. Love the lemon/honey combo.

  4. This drink was so refreshing and I loved the sweet honey flavor. The honey syrup was the perfect addition! Thanks for the fun recipe 🙂