Party Like It’s The Prohibition With A Bee's Knees Cocktail

Have you ever wondered what it is about the knees on bees that made them special enough to deserve their own phrase? Well unfortunately we’ve all been deceived because though bees have segmented legs, they don’t have knees at all and this phrase that originated in the 18th century was simply used to describe something that didn’t really exist. It was in the roaring 20s when other fanciful idioms like ‘the cat’s pyjamas’ also came into vogue that the meaning changed to mean something really excellent. It was around this time that the phrase was also attributed to one of the era’s most delectable cocktails

The origin of the cocktail is debated with a few different theories about how it came to be(e). One story says that it was Frank Meier – an Austrian who headed the bar at the Café Parisian at the Ritz Hotel, Paris – who first came up with the simple combination of gin, lemon and honey syrup. Another theory tells of Margaret Tobin Brown or as she’s better known, ‘the unsinkable Molly Brown’, a survivor of the 1912 Titanic disaster. The wealthy widow of a gold miner, she often travelled between Denver and Paris, and while visiting one of the women-only bars in Europe, she created the cocktail. 

The most common thought is a direct link with the Prohibition Era in the United States. Though from 1920 to 1933 alcohol was banned across the nation, spirits still flowed in speakeasies and back alleys. People took to making their own spirits which were potent, unpalatable and sometimes even deadly. This is thought to be the reason behind the mix of honey and lemon that would have masked the taste of the cheap bathtub gin. 

Fortunately today, safe and tasty gin is plentiful and this drink has become a beloved, albeit a sidelined staple of the classic cocktail menu. With minimal ingredients, it’s a quick and easy choice for anyone looking to dabble in mixology or create a large batch of cocktails to enjoy with friends. This is also a great choice to let a flavoured gin shine or amp up the experience with frozen fruit.


  • 60 gms gin
  • 20 gms lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 15 gms  honey syrup
  • Garnish: lemon twist


  • To make the honey syrup: Combine equal parts honey and water (say, 2 tablespoons each if you’re only making a few cocktails) in a microwave-safe bowl or small saucepan. Warm in the microwave or over the stovetop just until you can completely stir the honey into the water. Set aside.
  • Before juicing your lemons, use a vegetable peeler or channel knife to peel off a strip(s) of zest for your twist.
  • To make the cocktail, fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Pour in the honey syrup, lemon juice and gin. Securely fasten the lid and shake until the mixture is very cold about 30 seconds.
  • Strain the drink into a coupe or martini glass. Twist the lemon peel over the cocktail to release some of its oils, then drop it in. 
  • Enjoy cold.