bee's knees cocktail in a coupe glass

Say “hey!” to springtime with this simple sweet-tart cocktail recipe appropriately named the Bee’s Knees! Just three ingredients — including a homemade honey syrup, fresh-squeezed lemon juice and your favorite gin — are all you need to make this drink come together. Serve on a sunny day when you need a quick and delicious beverage for happy hour; repeat all spring and summer long.

Bee’s Knees Cocktail Recipe

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming of baked goods to bring you this seriously delish Bee’s Knees cocktail, aka my adult beverage of choice for Spring/Summer 2021. Made with honey, lemon and gin, it’s the color of sunshine, perfectly sweet-tart and also one of the easiest drinks I’ve ever made. You can imagine me sitting on my front stoop with one of these in hand and that’s likely my reality at that moment (after 5 p.m., of course ;)).

If you’re a curious, casual cocktail drinker like me (meaning, you aren’t a straight-up bartender but you also know your way around a cocktail shaker), here is what you’ll love about this recipe:

  • It’s made with a quick homemade honey syrup, aka simple syrup’s hippie cousin
  • You can use your favorite London Dry gin in this recipe
  • The combination of honey, lemon and gin gives this cocktail a sweet, tart, botanical medley of flavors
  • The sugar-coated rim adds a pretty look but also added sweetness to offset the fresh lemon juice

In less than 10 minutes, you can have a couple of these cocktails ready to serve at a moment’s notice. Cheers!

bee's knees cocktails in coupe glasses

Best Ingredients for a Bee’s Knees Cocktail

Cocktails with a simple ingredient list are 100% my jam, which is one more reason why I love this drink so much. That said, because the list is short, you want to be sure you’re using the best (and correct!) ingredients. Here’s what ya need:

  • Hot water + honey, to make the honey syrup
  • Fresh-squeezed lemon juice; NOT bottled lemon juice, I beg you
  • London Dry gin, such as Beefeater, Tanqueray, Bombay Sapphire or, my favorite, Sipsmith
  • Granulated sugar, to rim the glass (not required, but it does lend added sweetness for those who want it!)
  • Lemon twist, for garnish (also optional, but will make the drink extra-fancy)

Once you’ve got all of the above on hand, you’re only a few minutes away from happy hour.

How Do I Make Honey Syrup?

The honey syrup in this recipe is very similar to simple syrup, except you can make it in a fraction of the time without the need for a stovetop to melt the sugar. Simply whisk equal parts honey and hot water together until the honey “dissolves” into the hot water, and you’re set. Seriously so easy!

If you want to make a big batch of honey syrup to have on hand for more cocktails, you can store any extra syrup in the fridge in a tightly covered jar or container for up to 2 weeks.

bee's knees cocktails in coupe glasses

How Do I Serve a Bee’s Knees Cocktail?

The best way to serve this cocktail is “up” (chilled with no added ice) in a chilled coupe glass with a sugar rim (see Recipe) plus a twist of lemon for garnish. Of course, you can leave out the sugar rim and the lemon twist, if desired, or add a small slice of lemon or a pretty edible flower or a drink umbrella. YOU DO YOU.

*Chill the coupe glasses by placing them in the freezer for up to 10 minutes before pouring your drink into the glass.

Substitutions for London Dry Gin?

We tested this recipe with other types of gin, and London Dry gin (which is very juniper-and-citrus-forward) rendered the best flavor. That being said, it’s not everyone’s jam, and I get that! Hendrick’s gin would be a great alternative for this recipe, and Cookie & Kate recommends vodka as another substitution, as well. And, this hasn’t been tested, but I have a hunch that a splash or two of ginger ale would make this drink even more mellow/sippable/bubbly/delicious.

bee's knees cocktails in two coupe glasses
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bee's knees cocktail in a coupe glass

Bee’s Knees Cocktail

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  • Author: Stephanie
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 2 cocktails 1x
  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Shake
  • Cuisine: American


Three ingredients — a quick homemade honey syrup, fresh-squeezed lemon juice and your favorite gin — are all you need to make this easy and delicious springtime sipper.


  • 1 ounce (about 1 1/2 tablespoons) honey
  • 1 ounce (about 2 tablespoons) hot water
  • 2 oz (1/4 cup) fresh-squeezed lemon juice (from about 2 medium lemons)
  • 4 oz (1/2 cup) London Dry gin (such as Tanqueray or Beefeater)
  • granulated sugar, for the glass rim (optional)
  • 2 lemon peels, for garnish (optional)


  1. In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk honey and hot water together until honey is fully dissolved into water. Set aside.
  2. In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add lemon juice, gin and honey syrup. Cover and shake vigorously until mixture is well-blended and frothy, about 30 seconds.
  3. If desired, dip rims of two coupe glasses in a small shallow bowl of water, then in another small shallow bowl of granulated sugar to coat. Strain and divide cocktail mixture evenly between two prepared glasses. Garnish each with a lemon peel, if desired.


  • Do not use bottled lemon juice for this recipe. Since lemon juice is one of only a few ingredients, fresh juice will render the best flavor.
  • The addition of the sugar rim helps to offset the tartness of the lemon juice in the cocktail.
  • London Dry gin is very juniper-and-citrus-forward in flavor, making it the perfect accompaniment to this cocktail. I do not recommend using other types of gin, such as genever or Old Tom gin, for this recipe, as their flavors won’t mesh as well.

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