Zbigniew Bzdak / Chicago Tribune

Recipe of the Day: The Bee's Knees Cocktail

The bees are back in town
Zbigniew Bzdak / Chicago Tribune

A lot has changed since last March, but one thing that is the same from March 2020 to March 2021 is the excitement in the air as winter fades into the background. Birds chirping, flowers begging to bloom and not a snowflake in sight -- these nods to spring make life a little brighter, especially in the midst of a global pandemic. One way to celebrate spring's arrival (and your strength for making it through winter) is to make a cocktail that complements the season's beauty. This bee's knees cocktail does just that.  

Low-Alcohol Cocktails Are a Trend That’s Here to Stay

This cocktail uses gin as its spirit. Gin gets its most predominant flavor from juniper berries, but it can also be distilled with a variety of ingredients like citrus and spices. The fruity aromas of the spirit make it perfect for light spring cocktails, from a cucumber martini down to this creative gin mule recipe.  In addition to gin, this recipe calls for lemon and honey syrup (which you make from scratch). 

The honey syrup gives the drink its subtle sweetness and is also what lends the Bee's Knees its fun name. To make the syrup you'll need honey and water, two ingredients you likely already have in your kitchen. Add the honey and water to a saucepan over medium heat and stir until the honey has dissolved. If you want to add more flavor and fragrance to the cocktail, try adding some dried lavender to the mixture. Once the honey has dissolved and the liquid is cool, you can use it to make eight bee's knees cocktails. 

After whipping up this refreshing cocktail, enjoy it at a virtual or socially distanced outdoor happy hour with some friends and family. Not a fan of gin? No worries. Check out more of our cocktail recipes that pair well with dinner here

The Bee's Knees Cocktail

Recipe by Leah Eskin, originally in The Chicago Tribune.


For the cocktail:

  • 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup gin
  • 2 tablespoons honey syrup (recipe follows)
  • Ice

For the honey syrup:

  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup water


For the cocktail:

Step 1: Use a vegetable peeler to strip off a wide length of zest from the lemon. Use a five-hole zester to strip off some skinny lengths of zest. Halve and squeeze the lemon.

Step 2: Measure gin, syrup and 2 tablespoons lemon juice into a cocktail shaker. Add ice. Shake. Strain into a glass.

Step 3: Say you can't find the cocktail shaker. Use a pint jar with a screw top. Not as stylish, but does the trick.

Step 4: Remember that wide strip of lemon zest? Fold it, yellow-side down, over the rim of the glass. Slide it around the rim.

Step 5: Garnish cocktail with a strip or two of the skinny zest. Or, if you've flavored the honey syrup, garnish with a few thyme leaves or lavender blossoms.

Step 6: Drink up.

For the honey syrup:

Step 1: Measure into a small saucepan 1/2 cup honey and 1/2 cup water.

Step 2: Set over medium heat, and stir until honey has dissolved, about 1 minute.

Step 3: You can get fancy here and add a few dried lavender flowers or a stem of fresh thyme.

Step 4: Let cool. Strain (if need be). Makes about 1 cup (enough for 8 drinks).