The Bee's Knees


The Bee's Knees

Bathtub gin conjures up images of the 1920's, gangsters and speakeasies filled with fringed, feathered, stockinged and boa draped women, and newsboy cap and suspender sporting bartenders. When America's Prohibition legislation forced distilleries to limit their production to fulfilling medicinal prescriptions, the age of the American cocktail was born. Ingredients that could mask the less than ideal taste and smell of improvised and inconsistent distilled spirits became a bartender's art.

Citrus and honey were cheap and prolific--perfect foils to mask otherwise undrinkable gin. As a sweetener, honey is a goldmine providing enticing floral notes that subtlety flavor and nuance the aroma of hive honey. Living near an orange or Tupelo gum tree grove, a field of lavender, or a blueberry farm will give local honey citrus, cinnamon, and fruit essence. These foodsheds provide bees with a smorgasbord of local plant nectar and people an opportunity to eat honey made with local flora. Making inferior spirits palatable may have been the goal, but the result was a concoction beloved to this day.

Gin is little more than botanically flavored vodka. With an unwarranted bad boy reputation earned centuries ago when shady English distillers substituted turpentine for juniper berries to obtain gin's notorious piney taste, gin has steadily climbed the social ladder. In fact, gin is used to make more of the world's famous cocktails than any other spirit: think among its good company is the Negroni, Tom Collins, French 75, and James Bond's beloved shaken not stirred martini. So happens that a gin's herbs and spices liven up when mixed in a cocktail offering complex and pleasant tasting concoctions that please nearly all the sensory areas of the palette. Shimmering and mild tasting, with a limey, lavender, and cucumber character. Uncle Val's Botanical Gin plays well in any sandbox. Juniper is almost tertiary in this California produced small batch Italian inspired gin. If gin is not your thing, this Bee's Knee's cocktail may change your thinking.



2 ounces Uncle Val's Botanical Gin

3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice

3/4 ounce honey simple syrup

Lime twist garnish


1/2 cup clover honey

1/2 cup water


1.  Place a glass in the freezer to chill.

2. To make the simple syrup bring the honey and water to a boil In a SMALL POT. Cool and store in the refrigerator.

3. Place the gin, lemon juice, and honey syrup in an ice filled cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

4. Garnish with a lemon twist and serve immediately.



Kitchen Notes

Experiment with the honey simple syrup. The spectrum of taste runs the gamut from mild tasting clover honey, to citrusy notes in orange blossom honey, to earthy pungent flavored buckwheat honey and everything in between. The syrup is easily made in greater quantity. Simply use the 1:1 ratio and an appropriately sized pot for boiling. It keeps 2 weeks in the refrigerator. This cocktail may be made in a pitcher and kept in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. Lemon juice may be substituted for the lime juice.