Drinks

Bee’s Knees

Bee's Knees.

A gin sour with honey instead of sugar, this is Frank Meier’s version from the Ritz in Paris, created in the 1920s.

60 ml Rutte dry gin
15 ml lemon juice
15 ml honey syrup

Preparation: Shaken. For the honey syrup, mix one part Alnatura forest honey with one part sugar syrup (2:1).

Frank Meier, head bartender at the Ritz Hotel in Paris, states in his book “The Artistry of Mixing Drinks”, published in 1936, that the Bee’s Knees was his creation. This is confirmed by the oldest recipe I have found, from 1929, in the book Cocktails de Paris.

The name “Bee’s Knees” is said to derive from a colloquial expression of the Prohibition era meaning “the best”.[1]

Even before Bee’s Knees was created, gin was mixed with honey. One example is the 1904 book “American-Bar” by Frank Newman, which was also published in Paris – a coincidence or the inspiration for the Bee’s Knees? In any case, there is a recipe for “Gin and Honey” in it. The French book “Le barman universel” by P. Dagouret took over this recipe. We can certainly assume that Frank Meier knew the French literature.

The Bee’s Knees is basically nothing extraordinary, because it is nothing more than a gin sour with honey instead of sugar syrup. Others have come up with the idea, and you can find similar mixed drinks listed as Honey Cocktail or Little Honey. Occasionally, a little orange juice is added, lime juice is used, or even Angostura bitters.

In 1938, however, the recipe for a Bee’s Knees is published, which is no longer one, because Apple Jack is used instead of gin. In 1965, rum is to be used for the first time, which is also no longer a Bee’s Knees.

Sources
  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bee%27s_Knees_(cocktail) Bee’s Knees (cocktail).
Bee's Knees.
Bee’s Knees.

Historical recipes

Gin and Honey: 1904 Frank Newman: American-Bar. Seite 43. Gin and Honey.

Verre no 3
Mettre dans le verre no 3:
1 cuillerée à café de miel,
1 verre à liqueur de gin.
Bien remuer, servir avec un verre d’eau glacée à côté.

1923 P. Dagouret: Le Barman Universel. Seite 100. Gin and Honey.

Dans le verre n° 7:
1 cuiller à café de miel.
Demi-verre à madère, de gin.
Servir avec petite cuiller.
Verre d’eau glacé en même temps.

1929 Anonymus: Cocktails de Paris. Bees’ Knees.

1/6 jus de citron
1/6 Miel
faire ce mélange avant
2/3 Gordon’s dry Gin
Frapper le tout
FRANK MEIER, Bar du « Ritz ».

1930 Dexter Mason: The Art of Drinking. Seite 18. Honey Dew.

1 part gin
1 part lemon and orange juice
1/2 part strained honey.

1930 Gerardo Corrales: Club de Cantineros de la Republica de Cuba. Manual Oficial. Seite 44. Honey Cocktail.

1/5 miel de ábeja disuelto en
4/5 de ginebra secea.
Jugo de un limón.
Bátase bien.

1930 William T. Boothby: „Cocktail Bill“ Boothby’s World Drinks. Seite 17. Bee’s Knees.

Gin . . . . . . . . 1/2 jigger Orange . . . . . . . . 1 spoon
Lemon . . . . 1 spoon Honey . . . . . . . . 1 spoon
Shake well with ice, strain into chilled cocktail glass and serve.

1932 Anonymus: One Hundred Ways. Seite 29. Little Honey Cocktail.

1 dash Angostura Bitters
1 teaspoonful of honey
1/3 lemon juice
1/3 gin
Shake thoroughly with ice, strain and serve in glass No. 1.

1932 William C. Ferry: Wet Drinks for Dry People. Seite 13. Bees Knees.

1 ounce gin.
1 ounce honey (or less to suit).
1 teaspoon lemon juice.
Shake well together before add-
ing any ice as this will congeal
the honey. Place the shaved ice
in a cocktail glass and pour the
drink over it.
(This makes a drink similar to
a liqueur.)

1934 Anonymus: Apple Jack. Seite 21. Bee’s Knees.

1 teaspoonful of honey
1/3 lemon juice
2/3 Laird’s Apple Jack
Shake thoroughly with ice, strain and serve in glass No. 1. This
is a renowned cocktail.

1934 William T. Boothby: „Cocktail Bill“ Boothby’s World Drinks. Seite 23. Bee’s Knees.

Gin . . . . . . . . 1/2 jigger Orange . . . . . . . . 1 spoon
Lemon . . . . 1 spoon Honey . . . . . . . . 1 spoon
Shake well with ice, strain into chilled cocktail glass and serve.

1936 Elvezio Grassi: 1000 Mistura. Seite 26. Bees’knees Cocktail (Serie Rip).

Agitare nel shaker cong hiaccio:
25% Succo di limone
15% Miele
60% Gin dry
Agitare bene e servirlo.

1936 Frank Meier: The Artistry of Mixing Drinks. Seite 25. Bees’ Knees.

In shaker: the juice of one-
quarter Lemon, a teaspoon of
Honey, one-half glass of Gin;
shake well and serve.

1937 Salvador Trullos Mateu: Recetario internacional de cock-tails. Seite 101. Honey Cock-Tail.

Quinta parte miel de abeja disuelta en:
Cuatro quintas partes de ginebra BOOTH ‘S.
Jugo de un limón.
Bátase bien.

1938 Anonymus: Cocktails. Seite 17. Little Honey.

1 Jigger Gin
1/2 Jigger Lemon Juice
1 Teaspoon Honey
First put honey in shaker, add little hot water
and mix. Then add other ingredients. Shake well
with ice, serve in cocktail glass.

1938 Hyman Gale & Gerald F. Marco: The How and When. Seite 93. Bee’s Knees.

1 teaspoon Honey
1/3 Lemon Juice
2/3 Apple Jack
Shake well with ice
Serve in Cocktail Glass

1943 Jacinto Sanfeliu Brucart: Cien Cocktails. Seite 20. Bee’s Knees-Cocktail.

Póngase en la cocktelera unos pedacitos
de hielo y añadir:
1/6 jugo de limón.
1/6 miel
2/3 Gordon’s Gin
Agítese bien y sírvase en copa de cocktail.
— Fórmula de Frank Meier, barman del Ritz Hotel.
París —.

1945 R. M. Barrows & Betty Stone: 300 Ways to Mix Drinks. Seite 12. Honey Cocktail.

2 Oz. Dry Gin
1 Teaspoon Honey
1 Juice of a Lime
Shake well with ice and strain.

1948 David A. Embury: The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks. Seite 3. Bee’s Knees.

the Bee’s Knees—equal
parts of gin, lemon juice, and honey;

1948 David A. Embury: The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks. Seite 124. Bee’s Knees.

Early in the book I spoke in disparaging terms of the
Bee’s Knees. This, however, was because as it orig-
inally came out during prohibition days it consisted
of equal parts of lemon juice, honey, and gin. If made
as a variation of the standard Gin Sour, merely sub-
stituting honey for the sugar syrup, it is acceptable.

BEE’S KNEES
1 part Honey
2 parts Lemon Juice
8 parts Gin
Shake vigorously with cracked ice. The addition of a
small amount of orange juice (about 1 to 2 parts)
makes an interesting variation.

1948 Hilario Alonso Sanchez: El arte del cantinero. Seite 386. Honey.

1/5 miel de abejas.
4/5 ginebra seca.
Jugo de un limón.
Hielo. Bien batido, cuélese
y sírvase.

1948 Trader Vic: Bartender’s Guide. Seite 64. Bee’s Knees Cocktail.

1 oz. applejack 1 oz. lemon juice
. 1 tsp. honey
Shake with cracked ice; strain into chilled cocktail glass.

1948 Trader Vic: Bartender’s Guide. Seite 102. Bee’s Knee.

1 oz. gin Juice of 1/4 lemon
. 1 tsp. honey
Shake with crushed ice; strain into chilled cocktail glass.

1950 Ted Shane: Authentic and Hilarious Bar Guide. Seite 47. Bee’s Knee.

1 oz. Gin Juice of 1⁄4 Lemon
. 1 tsp. Honey
Shake with crushed ice and strain.

1951 Ted Saucier: Ted Saucier’s Bottoms Up. Seite 38. Bees’ Knees.

Courtesy, Hotel Ritz, Paris
Juice 1/4 lemon
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 glass gin
Dissolve honey in lemon juice, add gin and ice.
Shake well and serve in cocktail glass.

1953 Anonymus: The ABC of Cocktails. Seite 8. Bee’s Knees.

6 parts Gin
2 parts Lemon Juice
1 part Honey
Shake with ice, and strain into cock­
tail glass.

1953 David A. Embury: The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks. Seite 130. Bee’s Knees.

Early in the book I spoke in disparaging terms of the Bee’s Knees. This,
however, was because as it originally came out during prohibition days
it consisted of equal parts of lemon juice, honey, and gin. If made as
a variation of the standard Gin Sour, merely substituting honey for
the sugar syrup, it is acceptable. …

1 part Honey
2 parts Lemon Juice
8 parts Gin

Shake vigorously with cracked ice. The addition of a small amount
of orange juice (about 1 to 2 parts) makes an interesting variation.

1953 „Kappa“: Bartender’s Guide to Mixed Drinks. Seite 13. Bees Knees Cocktail.

1 oz. Dry Gin
Juice of 1/4 Lemon
1 Teaspoon Honey
Shake with crushed Ice and strain into 3 oz.
Cocktail glass.

1956 Patrick Gavin Duffy: The Official Mixer’s Manual. Seite 35. Bees’ Knees.

1 Jigger Gin
1 Teaspoon Honey
Juice of 1/4 Lemon
Shake well with ice and strain
into glass.

1957 Henri Barman: Cocktails et autres boissons mélangées. Seite 24. Bees’ Knees.

Shaker, glace
1/1 Gin
1 cuill. à thé de miel
jus frais 1/4 citron
Bien frapper au shaker et
passer dans verre à cocktail.
Mélangeur électr. : voir note.

1957 Lawrence Blochman: Here’s How. Seite 43. Bee’s Knees.

2 ounces dry or Old Tom gin 1 teaspoon honey
. 1 teaspoon lemon juice
Shake this one, too, with ice. Strain.

1960 Anonymus: Tout les cocktails et les boissons rafraichissante. Seite 21. Bees’ knees.

2/3 Gin
1/6 jus de citron
1/6 miel

1963 Luigi Veronelli: I cocktails. Seite 82. Bee’s Knees Cocktail.

1 bicchiere e 1/3 di dry gin
1/3 di bicchiere di succo di limone spremuto dalla
sola polpa
1 cucchiaio di miele
ghiaccio tritato
Riempire lo shaker fino a 1/3 della sua altezza con ghiac-
cio tritato. Aggiungere il succo di limone, il dry gin ed
il miele. Chiudere lo shaker, agitarlo vigorosamente, la-
sciarlo riposare un secondo, riprendere infine ad agitarlo
ma più lentamente. Servire subito.

1965 Harry Schraemli: Manuel du bar. Seite 353. Bee’s Knees Cocktail.

1 cuillère à bar miel, 1/6 jus de citron, 5/6 gin. Bien agiter.

1965 Robert London & Anne London: Cocktails and Snacks. Seite 42. Bee’s Knees Cocktail.

3/4 ounce orange juice 1/2 ounce lime juice
1 teaspoon fine grain sugar 1 1/2 ounces white label rum
Shake with cracked ice. Strain into cocktail glass.

1966 Harry Schraemli: Le roi du bar. Seite 32. Bee’s Knees Cocktail.

Shaker. 1 cb [cuillère de bar] miel, 1/6 jus de citron, 5/6 gin.

1972 Trader Vic: Trader Vic’s Bartender’s Guide. Seite 80. Bee’s Knees.

1 ounce gin
Juice of 1/4 lemon
1 teaspoon honey
Shake with shaved ice. Strain into chilled cocktail glass.

1973 Anonymus: 500 Ways to Mix Drinks. Seite 38. Honey Cocktail.

2 oz. dry gin
1 teaspoon honey
1 juice of a lime
Shake well with ice and strain
into a cocktail glass.

1976 Brian F. Rea – Brian’s Booze Guide. Seite 38. Bees’ Knees.

Blend/strain into pre-chilled cocktail glass
1/2 ounces Light Rum
3/4 ounce Orange Juice
1/2 ounce Lime Juice
2 dashes Orange Bitters (optional)
Garnish with Orange Peel

1977 Stan Jones: Jones’ Complete Barguide. Seite 225. Bee’s Knees.

Cocktail Glass Shake
1-1/2 oz gin
1/2 oz honey
1/2 oz lemon juice

Variation
1-1/2 oz applejack
1 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz honey

Variation:
1-1/2 oz Rum
1/2 oz orange juice
1/2 oz lime juice
1/2 oz honey
2 dashes orange bitters
Orange peel

2010 Jason Kosmas & Dushan Zaric: Speakeasy. Seite 109. Bee’s Knees. 2 ounces Cadenhead’s Old Raj gin 55; 1 ounce Honey Syrup; 3/4 ounce lemon juice; garnish: 1 lemon twist.

2011 Jim Meehan: Das Geheime Cocktail-Buch. Seite 59. Bee’s Knees. 6 cl Plymouth Gin; 2,5 cl Zitronensaft; 2,5 cl Honigsirup.

2014 Dave Arnold: Liquid Intelligence. Seite 133. Bee’s Knees. 60 ml gin; 22,5 ml honey syrup; 22,5 ml lemon juice; garnish: lemon wheel.

2014 David Kaplan, Nick Fauchald, Alex Day: Death & Co. Seite 140. Bee’s Knees. 2 ounces Tanqueray London Dry Gin; 3/4 ounce lemon juice; 3/4 ounce acacia honey syrup; 3 drops Scrappy’s lavender bitters; garnish: 1 cherry.

2016 André Darlington & Tenaya Darlington: The New Cocktail Hour. Seite 85. Bee’s Knees. 60 ml Old Tom Gin (Hayman’s); 22 ml honey syrup; 22 ml lemon juice; garnish: lavender sprig.

2018 Alex Day, Nick Fauchald, David Kaplan: Cocktail Codex. Seite 130. Bee’s Knees. 2 ounces London dry gin; 3/4 ounce lemon juice; 3/4 ounce Honey Syrup. Seite 45. Honey Syrup. 540 grams acacia or wildflower honey; 100 grams warm filtered water.

explicit capitulum
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About

Hi, I'm Armin and in my spare time I want to promote bar culture as a blogger, freelance journalist and Bildungstrinker (you want to know what the latter is? Then check out "About us"). My focus is on researching the history of mixed drinks. If I have ever left out a source you know of, and you think it should be considered, I look forward to hearing about it from you to learn something new. English is not my first language, but I hope that the translated texts are easy to understand. If there is any incomprehensibility, please let me know so that I can improve it.

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