I have a secret aspiration to someday be responsible for reviving or creating some quirky saying that catches on.  Some attempts that have only been  successful with a small group of friends include an over-use of the term “cuckoo” or the more popular “cuckoo bananas” and the attempted resurrection of “Duke’s Mixture” (Although, I think Brian and I are the only two who really use that one.)  “Bee’s Knees” falls into this category of fun-to-say phrases that I want to come back into fashion.  It means the height of excellence.  And don’t you just love the way it sounds– Bee’s Knees (stress the long E).

In addition to being a fabulous old-school saying that I will do my best to revive, the Bee’s Knees is a wonderful cocktail.  Last night I was having dinner with a group of friends and thought what else would I make for a bunch of women who are themselves “the bee’s knees”?

I really love this cocktail for its simplicity and warmth of flavor.  Gin, honey syrup and lemon are a pretty good combination—sometimes keeping it simple is the best option.  Developed during Prohibition, bartenders got creative as they developed new drinks, like the Bee’s Knees.  Necessity may have prompted them to mask the illegal booze they were serving up with amped up sweeteners like honey.  And happily honey returned to mixed drinks after a long hiatus since the colonial era.  The drink was developed around the same time that the phrase “bee’s knees” came into fashion, along with other fun sayings that express high quality like “cat’s pajamas” and “snake’s hips.”

Honey defines this drink.  For me, the flavor is what I imagine sunshine takes like– natural, complex, warming and botanical.   For a cocktail though honey is a bit thick, so making honey syrup is necessary and super easy.  I use honey from Eat Local Honey in Jamaica Plain, MA.  Honeybees are producing this yum stuff all over the city of Boston, and I am lucky enough to be able to enjoy some delicious local honey.  While you can find some pretty good stuff in grocery stores like Whole Foods, there is something about using honey that is from so close to home that I love.

To make honey syrup: combine equal parts honey and warm water (from the tap).  Mix slowly until the honey is thinned by the water.  Store in airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. [You could leave it unrefrigerated, but apparently it will ferment into mead.]  Now, you can heat the water on the stove top, but I have found this simple methods works just fine.

Bee’s Knees

2 oz gin

¾ oz honey syrup

½ oz fresh lemon juice

Shake over ice.  Serve straight up.

The Bee’s Knees is the bee’s knees (and the “elephant’s instep”).  Cheers!

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