A lot of times I make drinks for people who say they don’t like a particular spirit.
But there are always gateway drinks you can make, that more often than not make them change their mind.
For instance, my wife typically doesn’t like whiskey.
All it took was one whiskey sour and she was sold.
She also wasn’t crazy about gin.
Do you know what the best gateway cocktail is for people who don’t like gin?
The Bees Knees.
It’s basically a riff on a classic daiquiri, it just switches out a few ingredients and uses the same ratios.
So what’s it all about?
Let’s find out.
The History of the Bees Knees Cocktail
The Bees Knees cocktail is a classic prohibition-era cocktail that was created to mask the taste of low-quality alcohol that was often available during that time.
The name has to be one of the best names in all of the cocktail world. The term “Bees Knees” was a popular term in the 20s for “the best” or “great.” Given that it’s a fantastic cocktail made out of honey, I’m not sure you could have picked a better name.
The exact origin is unknown, but a common story is that it was developed by Frank Meier while working at the Hotel Ritz in Paris.
How to Make a Bees Knees Cocktail
To make a Bees Knees cocktail, you will need the following ingredients:
- 2 ounces of gin
- 3/4 ounce of honey syrup (made by mixing equal parts honey and water, see below)
- 3/4 ounce of fresh lemon juice
- A cocktail shaker
- Strainer (if your shaker doesn’t have it built-in)
- A chilled cocktail glass
- Fill your cocktail shaker with
- Add the gin, honey syrup, and lemon juice to the cocktail shaker.
- Shake the cocktail shaker vigorously for about 10-15 seconds to combine the ingredients and chill them.
- Double-strain the mixture into a chilled cocktail glass.*
- Garnish with a twist of lemon, if desired.
*Double Strain: This is a technique where you strain your cocktail into a chinois (or mesh strainer) to remove
How to Make Honey Syrup (and Why You Should)
I remember in the earliest days of my cocktail obsession, I literally just scooped honey into a shaker for my Bees Knees cocktail when I made it.
If you’ve ever tried to mix straight honey with
You end up with a big gooey, sticky mess – and very little of the honey actually gets mixed into the drink.
It’s incredibly easy to make, and is a fantastic thing to keep in your fridge when you want a little variety in your drink.
How do you do it?
It’s the exact same process as making simple syrup, you just switch out the honey for sugar.
- Equal parts water and honey in a small saucepan
- Heat on medium til combined.
- Wait for it to cool, and keep it in the fridge for up to about a month.
Many recipes in modern cocktail books call for homemade syrups, shrubs, bitters etc., that you’ll only use once for a very specific drink.
What I love about the honey syrup, is there are tons of drinks you can make with it.
And if you’re looking for more ideas or recipes, I’d recommend picking up “Regarding Cocktails.”
There are a bunch of simple (but delicious) recipes in there that call for the syrup.
Hope you enjoy!
Bees Knees Cocktail
- Cocktail Shaker
- Hawthorne Strainer
- Coupe Glass
- 2 oz Gin
- .75 oz Honey Syrup
- .75 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
- Combine all ingredients into a cocktail shaker
- Add Ice
- Shake for 10-15 seconds until well chilled
- Double strain into a coupe glass
Other Gin Drinks to Try
Looking to try a few other gin drinks, here are some we’d recommend that are equally as friendly to people who don’t typically love gin.
- Last Word Cocktail – My other go-to recipe for people who “don’t like gin.” This is a more herbal drink due to the green chartreuse, but it’s very complex for such a simple drink.
- Singapore Sling – There are quite a few ingredients, and we’ve tried a variety of recipes. But the original, is still our favorite!
- Aviation – Another lemon gin drink, that is kind of like a cross between a Bees Knees and a Last Word.