Random recipe: The Bees Knees

This time last year I was idling around Soho, hoping to have a drink with Mr Belleau Kitchen. Alas, our schedules did not allow it, but we’re finally managing a kind of virtual cocktail hour through this month’s Random Recipes challenge.

Cocktail Recipe For The Bees Knees

For July, Dom has asked us to delve deep into our drinks books and come up with a cocktail recipe. I didn’t have to try very hard – when I lifted a notebook off the shelf in my office a tiny slip of paper with this recipe on it fluttered out. It’s for a Bees Knees, a honey, lemon and gin cocktail that I last made for my father in a tiny flat in Hampstead in 2008. That flat has long gone from my life and, sadly, so has Dad, but shaking this up in a jam jar took me back there in an instant. If gin makes you maudlin – look, even writing about it makes me a bit blue – then rest assured you can make it with vodka too.

The Bees Knees
I remember cutting this recipe out of the Observer Food Monthly several weeks ahead of my parents’ visit, chiefly because honey and gin were two of Dad’s great loves. (Cigars, red wine, steak and chocolate were harder to fit in a cocktail glass.) I’ve rejigged the quantities a little and this amount is enough for two – or one very thirsty person. To me, this is the perfect cocktail; it’s short, punchy and not too sweet.

50ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 Tbsp honey syrup – made by stirring together 1 Tbsp honey and 2 Tbsp water
100ml best quality gin (or vodka)

Put all ingredients in a cocktail shaker, add ice and shake to combine. Strain into two martini glasses and garnish with a strip of lemon rind. Serves two.

Are you a fan of the cocktail hour? What’s your poison?



  1. July 23, 2014 / 9:05 am

    Omg I love this recipe. Lemon, honey, gin. Err Hello? Fabulous and SO sorry we just couldn't get together to meet. We all need some floating cocktail bar that hovers over the planet picking up food bloggers…

    • July 27, 2014 / 9:06 pm

      A floating cocktail bar? Count me in! You have to make this, it's really delicious (not to mention rather lethal…)

  2. July 23, 2014 / 11:42 am

    Virtual cocktails suit me well – I love the thought of cocktails – very elegant just like this one but the only time in my life I really got into them was as a student and alas I was not terribly elegant then 🙂 I think memories of sharing this with your dad in a tiny flat in London sound very special and must make this cocktail one to savour from time to time in his memory!

    • July 27, 2014 / 9:15 pm

      I drank a lot of very inelegant cocktails as a student too, but I'm trying to rediscover them. I think the same rules apply to cocktails as apply to food – really good ingredients and not too many of them!

  3. July 23, 2014 / 12:29 pm

    I am going to have to miss out on this virtual cocktail challenge this time round, but will be sure to check out the round up. I love the sound of this – lemon and honey combo for a start got me interested and may have to try it out with vodka – I have so many bookmarked recipes from you and Johanna of GGG, about time I started making some of them 🙂

  4. July 24, 2014 / 10:36 pm

    What a perfect name for a cocktail. It sounds so old fashioned, shades of roaring twenties. Love it. I'm not a great cocktail drinker but do love a mojito for all that herby lemony freshness every so often and anything with elderflower.
    Thanks for sharing your cocktail memories with us.

  5. July 25, 2014 / 11:28 am

    I bet he loved this! I can't wait to try it, maybe with manuka honey so I could pretend it was good for me (remember Nanna and her "medicinal" sherries?)

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