Bee’s Knees Cocktail is Back!

By the way, do honeybees even have knees?

“Bee’s knees” – a famous cocktail, or a nice way to give a compliment? It’s both. And sometimes, you might even say, “This Bee’s Knees cocktail sure is the bee’s knees.”

Serendipitously, the two meanings of “bee’s knees” entered the English dialogue around the same time – in the 1920s. On one wing, “bee’s knees” is believed to have originated from the phrase “bee’s knees and cat’s whiskers,” which was a term used in the 1920s to refer to something that was considered excellent or top-notch.

On the other wing, “bee’s knees” also was used as the name of a cocktail that was popular during the 1920s Prohibition era, when people used ingredients like honey and lemon to tame the unpleasant taste of the moonshine gin that was available at the time. The original recipe was a simple concoction that called for gin, honey and lemon juice – honey to sweeten and lemon juice for a tart flavor – to balance the harsh taste of the gin.

After Prohibition ended in 1933, the Bee’s Knees drink lost favor as new and higher-quality (legal) liquors were made available. However, in recent years, classic cocktails and craft cocktails have become all the rage, and the Bee’s Knees is popular again. Helping fuel the resurgence is a trend toward natural ingredients. Honey, in particular, has become a popular ingredient in cocktails due to its unique flavor profile and what many believe to be health benefits.

Honey is a natural sweetener that is rich in antioxidants and has antibacterial properties. It is also a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of cocktails. When used in the Bee’s Knees, the honey adds a subtle sweetness that pairs well with the tartness of the lemon juice and the gin. It’s a winning combo that has led several widely known New York restaurants to currently feature the drink on their menus. The Bee’s Knees is once again the bee’s knees!

Want to try one? The mix is simple

Click above to see how Sue Bee honeybees relax after a long day of gathering nectar.


2 oz gin

3/4 oz lemon juice (preferably freshly squeezed)

1/2 oz SUE BEE® honey

Lemon twist for garnish

Directions: Just add the ingredients in a shaker and shake well. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with the lemon twist. Cheers!

About those knees …

All this talk about bee’s knees got us thinking … do honeybees actually have knees?

Contrary to what the name may suggest, bees do not have knees. Insects have jointed legs, and the segments of their legs are called coxae, trochanter, femur, tibia and tarsus. These segments provide flexibility and allow bees to move their legs in different directions, but they do not have a knee joint like humans do, says Jürgen Tautz in his book, “The Buzz About Bees.” 

Tautz explains that the joint between the tibia and femur is commonly referred to as the bee’s knee, but it is not a true knee joint like those found in humans or other animals because it doesn’t have a patella and fibula that form the hinge joint. 

The more you know …

Categories: Honey Stories

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