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The Bee’s Knees ~ Slang & a Cocktail

Where did that expression … it’s the bee’s knees! … come from?

We must first establish the answer to the question: Do bees have knees?  Yes, they do. Bees collect pollen in sacs on their back knees.  Those sacs are little things that perform an excellent function in nature. My vegetables, flowers, and morning tea bow to the mighty bee.

The expression became popular in the 1920’s to describe something or someone that was excellent.

The 20’s brought Prohibition (also known as the Volstead Act, but more widely known as the 18th Amendment to the Constitution). The dawn of moonshine, bathtub gin, the speakeasy, flappers, and a flood of expressions like “it’s the bee’s knees” were upon us.

Speaking of speakeasies, check out the famous Stork Club, which began as a speakeasy. There’s another link at this webpage. Trust me, click on it.

When people couldn’t get booze, they began making their own.  It was usually terrible (moonshine & bathtub gin), so drinkers loaded up the bad alcohol with very strong flavors to make it drinkable.  Ergo, the Bee’s Knees cocktail.  I haven’t been able to figure out who was the first to make this drink, but it was popular during that era.  Here you go:

BEE’S KNEES: (1 serving)

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup honey

1/3 cup gin

juice of 1/2 lemon

Whisk the honey into the water over low heat until the honey melts and you have honey syrup.  Put some ice into a cocktail shaker.  Pour in the honey syrup.  Add the lemon juice and gin.  Shake it.  Strain  into a martini glass.  Garnish with a thin lemon slice.

This drink is pretty sweet.  Play with it.  Add more lemon juice if it’s too sweet for you.  It tastes really great.

Go Eat … er … Drink Your History!


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