September 21, 2012
About a century ago, to call something “the bee’s knees” meant you considered it to be of top notch quality. It’s an apt name for this week’s cocktail, a simple combination of gin, honey, and lemon juice that proves sophistication doesn’t demand complexity.
The historic origins of the Bee’s Knees are murky, although the consensus seems to have gathered around the fact that it was a Prohibition-era creation. The PDT Cocktail Book gives credit to and draws its recipe from Frank Meier’s The Artistry of Mixing Drinks, published in 1937, noting that Frank Meier created this drink some time during the 1930’s while tending bar at the Ritz in Paris.
2 oz. Plymouth Gin
0.75 oz. fresh lemon juice
0.75 oz. honey syrup (2 parts honey dissolved in 1 part hot water, for easy mixing)
Tools: shaker, strainer
Glass: chilled coupe
Method: Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail coupe.
Turning the honey into a syrup by pre-diluting it with hot water and allowing it to cool aids in the mixing process, allowing you to make a lot more drinks a lot more quickly.
The Bee’s Knees is a great way to introduce people to gin, or trick gin haters into enjoying a gin cocktail. It is a deceptively simple drink, which makes it that much more important to use the best ingredients you can find. Using a quality gin like Plymouth and fresh juice are obvious points, but you’d be surprised what a difference a really good clover honey will make as well.
*This post is part of a series in which Payman takes on the task of making and writing about every cocktail featured in the PDT Cocktail Book, as well as providing an awesome photo of each drink taken by Vanessa Bahmani Photography.
**Got a question? He can be found on twitter @paystyle, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or simply drop him a comment below.