the bee’s knees cocktail

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The Bee’s Knees, served over ice with a splash of soda, garnished with a sprig of fresh thyme… #springinaglass

Well, hello, April!  How did you all of a sudden arrive on the scene?  I completely blame spring for my absence on the blog.  The volume, pace, color, intensity, bandwidth, frequency, and, well, the “crazy” factor have all increased over the past few weeks, and I just couldn’t set the time aside to document along the way.  Has the rush of spring been like that for you?

I have been bustling away in the garden to make sure that the gardening season is set for us.  Steve and I started our seeds indoors for the tomatoes, peppers, and herbs.  We built a two-section compost bin.  We sowed the cool season crops in succession.  And then I wrote about it here, here, and here.  As if that weren’t enough, I painstakingly planned out the entire growing season and mapped out a planting calendar.  I feel confident we did as much as we could, and I am definitely feeling a little obsessive right about now!  And maybe a bit thirsty…

I have also been temporarily trading in my cozy and savory bourbon cocktails for some bright, aromatic, refreshing gin-based libations.  Gin is my absolute favorite spirit to mix or just enjoy on its own, and one of the best ones out there is the Botanist.  It hails from the island of Islay, Scotland, and is bursting with floral notes.  I was crestfallen, when it was temporarily unavailable on the shelves at my local spirits shop, so when it returned, it was only logical to swipe up a few – one for cocktails and the other two for a barrel-aging project I’ve been working on.

My favorite springtime gin? The Botanist. Floral, balanced, and complex. It’s stellar for a simple gin and soda.

Have you ever tried a Bee’s Knees cocktail?  Its bright, honeyed notes are perfect for sipping on a spring afternoon in the garden.  This Prohibition-era cocktail has made quite the comeback, since its humble beginnings as a means to cover up undesirable characteristics of the “bathtub gins” of the 1920s.  I always envision Carol Burnett’s classic portrayal of Miss Hannigan in “Annie,” when I hear the words, “bathtub gin”.  Remember the scene, where she belts out the song, “Little Girls,” while lazily stirring gin into her tub?  I am sure I am not alone here, but just to refresh your memory, watch this.

Choose great quality honey to make the most flavorful honey syrup. I had some leftover honey from a recent trip to California. It was a $10 splurge and was the only honey I had on hand, so it was a little over-the-top this time!

Along with their Honey Chamomile, DRAM’s Hair-of-the-Dog and Wild Mountain Sage bitters are staples in my kitchen.

The Bee’s Knees Cocktail

  • 2 ounces gin
  • 3/4 ounces honey syrup
  • 1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • dash of DRAM Honey Chamomile bitters {optional}
  • spring of thyme for garnish {optional}

First, prepare the honey syrup.  It is easier to make than you’d think.  Place equal parts honey and water in a saucepan over medium heat.  Stir until dissolved.  For two or three drinks, I used 1/2 cup of honey and 1/2 cup of water, and the amount was perfect.  Set the honey syrup aside on your countertop to cool.

When you are ready to make the cocktail, build ice in a shaker tin and add the gin, honey syrup, lemon juice, and bitters.  Shake well and pour into a glass.  I still need to get some great coupes, so I used a short martini glass. For a fun variation on the classic preparation, serve this same cocktail over ice and top with soda water.  You still get to enjoy the intensity of the honey and lemon, along with bubbles and less of a bite.

A few tips?  Never settle for anything other than freshly squeezed lemon juice.  It makes all the difference in the world in a great cocktail.  Quality spirits make quality drinks.  You don’t have to go overboard with your spending, but do try to catch quality spirits on sale and stock up.  I have especially enjoyed using DRAM Apothecary’s bitters to bring balance or a burst of flavor in my cocktails.  Their Honey Chamomile bitters are excellent dashed in hot tea, as well.  Then again, you can always craft your own.

The Buzz on the Bee’s Knees Elsewhere

  • Lavender Bee’s Knees from Epicurious – Lavender pairs perfectly with the flavors of honey and lemon.  I’ll be making one of these soon.
  • PUNCH Drink‘s spin on the Bee’s Knees – A different ratio than mine, but still delicious.  They always nail their cocktails.
  • The Bee’s Knees by Post Prohibition – Their well-organized and informative site will stir your creativity even further, but their Bee’s Knees cocktail is a great place to start!

I am closing with some photos from late March and early April.  Steve helped me celebrate a lovely birthday in late March.  I’ll include some Instagrams in the collage and add some captures from the early April backyard garden.  I’d L-O-V-E to hear about any spring-inspired or gin cocktails you are making.  Have a spectacular Thursday!

Part of the deal with living in Colorado: dealing with the snows one day and 70-degree, sunny weather the next. I salvaged these daffodils by covering them with a bucket. What we do for our treasured flowers! ;-)

Part of the deal with living in Colorado: dealing with the snows one day and 70-degree, sunny weather the next. I salvaged these daffodils by covering them with a bucket. What we do for our treasured flowers! 😉

This portion of the garden will transform over the next few months.  I am so excited to add more wine barrels to use with pepper, tomatoes, and beans.

This portion of the garden will transform over the next few months. I am so excited to add more wine barrels to use with pepper, tomatoes, and beans.

My workstation! Ha! A nice pour of Miner Chardonnay, and I am good to design any garden!

Sunning the seeds. Making the donuts.

Our two-bin compost system. We built it ourselves, using mostly materials we already had in our barn. I seriously get happy just bringing out scraps to toss in!

Finishing the compost bin plans! Some serious air here…

Black Krims, Romas, Brandywines, Sun Golds, Sweet Cherries, and German Johnsons.

Taking a well-deserved break after building the compost bin, Steve enjoys a Bee’s Knees cocktail.

  1. angiebaur48 says:

    I am dying of thirst now. I love gin. Love it. I will have to go out for some botanist, and some honey..

    I still want to be your neighbor. You could bring me cocktails while I watched the kids play outside…

    Congrats on those bins and the garden plans.. I am beyond jealous of your energy and organization! Keep us updated!

  2. Susan says:

    That looks fantastic. I lost all my thyme (and all my other herbs except sage, for that matter) in the horrific Northeast winter, but my new seedlings can probably spare a sprig or two for this. You asked about other spring-y, gin-y drinks — I’m a huge fan of the rhubarb G&T. Just steep a couple cups of cut rhubarb with equal parts sugar and water. Strain out the rhubarb to get a delightfully, shockingly pink, tart-sweet syrup. And the rhubarb, though leached of its color, is great stirred into yogurt.

    • jayme marie says:

      I am so sorry you lost all of your herbs this season, Susan. We had a rough {not as rough as yours, though} late spring last year and lost a lot of the early pops in our garden. We had a brief pity party and hit the garden center for replacements. I am so happy you shared your rhubarb syrup recipe! I have been eying some lately and wanted to do an infusion. I can see it going perfectly with gin. Thanks for the brilliant idea and good luck with your seedlings!

  3. Mary Edith Jackson says:

    Ok, I have really searched and if it is so modestly hidden that I can’t find it then neither can others. Where is the link to your articles in the Kitchn??? That is very important and it seems as if it is a secret, or for some reason there is no link. Baby, think about this and put it in the sidebar in a place that it deserves. Preferably at the top above Instagram !!

    Love, Aunt Nook

    If you don’t ring your bell, no one else will and no one can hear it of you are not ringing.

    Sent from my iPad


    • jayme marie says:

      You are officially my most active cheerleader and supporter of my endeavors, Aunt Nook! I love you and am planning a revamp of the site, in general. Thanks for the links today, and thanks for dropping by and also for giving me the sound advice that no one else ever does…and for kicking my butt and telling me like it is! You ROCK! #keepingmeinline XOXOXOXO!

  4. Congrats on the book win and I’m so glad that you did as it led to me finding your blog. Fabulous drinkie-I’ve lost a tonne of plants this winter too.

    • jayme marie says:

      Jane, you are welcome! I am very happy to try out some of the recipes; I really loved Marisa’s first book, Food in Jars. The drink is definitely a spring staple at my house, well, at least on the weekends! 😉 Good luck with getting your plants back in the game for the growing season. Your blog is inspiring and beautifully done!

  5. Julia Sforza says:

    Looks lovely and great work on your garden. Whew! I have never tried The Botanist—have to look for it now!

    • jayme marie says:

      Thanks, Julia! The garden is definitely a lot of work toward the beginning of the season, but the work will pay off. The Botanist is great – a really delicate version of gin. It is my favorite one to add to soda. For gin and juice, I love the St. George Terroir gin; it is perfect with grapefruit juice. If you lived closer, I’d trade you a cocktail for some of your ramps!

  6. I love the Bee’s Knees Cocktail. My favorite restaurant here in Reno makes one with lavender that is really good. A friend passed along a bottle of The Botanist Gin to me the other day. So far I’ve tried it in a G&T (my go to drink for any new bottle of gin) and really liked it. Definitely need to do some experimenting with it!

  7. spoonwithme says:

    Beautiful cocktail, and I love how you documented the beginning of spring! So happy to have met you!

  8. […] or a few lilac flowers, if you have some. This cocktail is vibrant, acidic, and floral. Similar to the Bee’s Knees cocktail, it is lemony and honeyed in its flavor profile. Perfect for spring […]

  9. […] prohibition times with a  Bee’s Knees Cocktail from Holly & […]

  10. […] I settled on a classic Prohibition Era cocktail that I found in the archives of the charming holly & flora which I will be fawning over for the foreseeable future. The Bee’s Knees used honey to mask […]

  11. […] been meaning to share this floral, spring-inspired twist on the classic Bee’s Knees cocktail for several weeks now. Back in January, I made a batch of pear- and cinnamon-infused gin, and I […]

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