Bees Knees Cocktail Recipe (Classic + Delicious)

Gin, lemon juice, orange juice & honey simple syrup combine in this delicious Bees Knees cocktail. Served straight up in a martini glass.

Looking for more ways to use up that bottle of gin? Be sure to try my Aviation Cocktail Recipe, French 75 Cocktail Recipe and Gin and Tonic Recipe with 3 ways to customize it.

Lately, I have been noticing lots of cocktails featuring honey popping up on bar menus around town. Most feature some type of citrus along with the honey and are served straight up. Perhaps bartenders are taking a cue from the Hot Toddy – A classic wintertime drink consisting of whiskey, hot water, honey and lemon and believed to cure colds.

It does make sense though. Honey is a sweetener and can function in any cocktail much like a simple syrup would. As the base for this Bees Knees Drink, I’m making a honey simple syrup.

The reason we’re turning the honey into a syrup is so that it won’t clump up when you add it to your cocktail. Instead, it will incorporate nicely and lightly sweeten your drink.

Bowl of lemons next to honey simple syrup.

Bee’s Knees cocktail history

According to Gin Foundry:

The Bee’s Knees is thought to have emerged during Prohibition era America, when bathtub gin was all the rage. Adding spoonfuls of honey to such bitter alcohol certainly would have helped to mask the harshness, and when mixed with the lemon would create a more appetizing and sweet concoction.

– The Gin Foundry

What is in a Bees Knees drink?

  • Honey Simple Syrup – See info on how to make it below. Or, check out this full post on how to make it.
  • Gin – Not a gin fan? You can also make this cocktail with vodka. Learn all about the differences between gin vs. vodka here.
  • Orange Juice & Lemon Juice – Fresh squeezed is best here!

How To make honey simple syrup

  • Simply combine equal parts honey and water in a small saucepan. Heat over medium until well blended. Here’s a full post on how to make simple syrup on the stove or in the microwave.

How long does honey simple syrup last?

  • This honey syrup will last, stored in the refrigerator, for up to one month.

What gin is best for a bees knees?

Use your favorite dry gin in this recipe. Some great options are Beefeater, Hendricks, Tanqueray and Aviation.

Honey simple syrup in glass bottle.

How to make a Bees Knees Cocktail

  • Combine honey simple syrup, gin, lemon juice and orange juice in a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
  • Shake vigorously and strain into a cocktail glass.
  • Garnish with a lemon wheel.
  • Enjoy! 

Bee’s Knees cocktail variations

  • If you’re not a fan of gin, you could also use vodka or bourbon in this cocktail. Learn all about the differences between gin vs. vodka here.
  • Want a sweeter cocktail? Simply add more honey simple syrup.
  • Add a hint of floral by adding a splash of St. Germain.
  • Make a lavender bees knees by infusing your simple syrup with lavender.
  • If you divide your cocktail between two champagne flutes and top it with sparkling wine, you’ve essentially got a French 75 cocktail.
  • For a drink that’s not as strong, simply add a splash of soda or tonic water and serve it over ice.

Two Bees Knees Cocktails in coupe glasses next to honey simple syrup and bowl of lemons.

More cocktail recipes

Did you try this bees knees cocktail recipe?

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Two Bees Knees Cocktails in coupe glasses next to honey simple syrup and bowl of lemons.

Easy Bees Knees Cocktail Recipe

Gin, lemon juice and honey combine in this delicious Bee’s Knees cocktail. Served straight up in a martini glass. 
5 from 8 votes
Print Pin
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 1 cocktail


Honey Simple Syrup

Bees Knees Cocktail


Honey Simple Syrup

  • Combine water and honey in a small saucepan. Heat over medium, stirring often, until the mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.


  • Combine 2 ounces of the honey simple syrup, gin, lemon juice and orange juice in a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake vigorously for 30 seconds.
  • Strain into a small chilled cocktail glass and serve.
  • Reserve remaining honey simple syrup for more cocktails.
Did you make this recipe?Mention @platingsandpairings or tag #platingsandpairings!


Calories: 272kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Sodium: 33mg | Potassium: 103mg | Sugar: 45g | Vitamin A: 70IU | Vitamin C: 28.6mg | Iron: 2mg

This recipe was originally published in 2015. It was updated in 2019 to add new photographs and update the content. The original lemon honey cocktail recipe remains the same. Enjoy! 

Watch the web story here.

18 thoughts on “Bees Knees Cocktail Recipe (Classic + Delicious)”

  1. 5 stars
    Love your recipe! Will be making again. Gin is one of those liquors I’ve been only starting to appreciate recently. I’m loving gin with the addition of bright citrus. And I love the addition of fresh honey simple syrup to sweeten it up, and I made enough to use for next time as well. Ciao!

  2. 5 stars
    Holy moly, this is like a cold hot toddy, but so much better, because you can enjoy it without the sniffles and misery. Also I love gin soooo much better than whiskey (for hot toddies).
    I’m pretty sure this is going to be my summer drink this year!
    And of course GORGEOUS as always!

  3. 5 stars
    Although not mentioned in this article, orange juice is NOT traditionally an ingredient in a Bee’s Knees cocktail. However I loved the taste of this cocktail and I think a bit of orange juice makes this variation even better than the original.


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