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Remix: The Bees’ Knees 

We remix the honey-tinged Prohibition-era classic by adding beer

  • photo by Jessica Bryce Young

Last fall I was looking for a cocktail to Remix by adding beer, in honor of Oktoberfest. Then I read somewhere that I read that September is National Honey Month, and the penny dropped: Of course! The gin-and-honey-based Bee’s Knees – a Prohibition-era classic probably invented to mask the taste of bathtub gin – was the perfect candidate. “Beer knees it is!” I thought. (After I mixed the drink, I gave a cursory Google and found I wasn’t the first clever bear to come up with that name, though I didn’t run across any exactly like mine.)

I stuck closely to the original recipe, tinkering only with the proportions and, of course, adding a tasty amber Oktoberfest Märzen brew. I used an easily obtainable, not-too-dark Spaten, but should you want a lighter, brighter cocktail at any time of the year, try this Remix with a coriander-scented witbier like Hoegaarden or Wittekerke instead – it’s especially refreshing in the summer heat.

Despite the addition of beer, this is a refined concotion; get out your nicest stemmed coupe glass for serving.


2 ounces gin

1 ounce honey syrup

1 ounce lemon juice

First, make the honey syrup: Whisk together equal parts of honey and warm water in a small saucepan, bring to a gentle boil, then let stand off heat until the mixture comes to room temperature. Pour into a glass jar and refrigerate.

Pour gin, honey syrup and lemon juice into a shaker filled with ice. Shake well and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.


1 ounce gin, chilled

1 ounce honey syrup, chilled

1 ounce lemon juice, chilled

2.5 ounces cold Märzen beer or witbier

It’s important that all the ingredients are chilled, since this drink is neither shaken with nor served over ice. (While you’re at it, put the glass in the fridge too.) Combine the gin, honey syrup and lemon juice in a mixing glass and stir with a bar spoon. Pour in the beer, then transfer the mixture to a chilled stemmed glass. If you’re the sort for a fancy garnish, a sprig of lavender or a lemon-peel spiral wouldn’t be out of place.


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