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The Queen Bee Gin Cocktail

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SKILL LEVEL :
Easy and quick
This tasty Queen Bee gin cocktail is a slight variation on the Prohibition era Bees Knees cocktail. The history of the Bees Knees cocktail has a few colorful variations. One version is that it was created by Austrian-born Frank Meiers, the first head bartender at the Ritz in Paris in the 1920's.
The queen bee gin cocktail | Something New For Dinner
Another version is that the Bees Knees was invented by Margaret Tobin Brown, otherwise known as "the unsinkable Molly Brown," one of a few who survived the sinking of the Titanic. Margaret Brown lived between Denver and Paris during Prohibition and may have frequented the Paris Ritz where she could have come into contact with Frank Meiers.
The queen bee gin cocktail | Something New For Dinner
Another theory is that the Bees Knees was invented out of the need to disguise harsh bathtub gin that was illicitly manufactured during Prohibition.

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Possibly all of the above theories are partially true. Perhaps Frank Meier invented the Bees Knees in Paris. Molly Brown discovered it while visiting the Ritz and brought it back to Denver where the cocktail was appreciated for its ability to make bathtub gin more palatable. Or flip that, and Molly Brown invented the Bees Knees in Denver and imported it to Paris where she told Frank Meier how to make them at the Ritz. Success has many fathers!

The Queen Bee Gin Cocktail is Made with Empress 1908 Gin

My spin on the Bees Knees is the Queen Bee gin cocktail, which is made with purple-hued Empress 1908 gin. I guess I could have named it the Empress Bee, instead of the Queen Bee. Empress 1908 gin is the collaboration of Victoria Distilleries and the Empress Hotel in Victoria, Canada. Empress gin is made in small batches in copper stills and uses Empress tea and an array of botanicals to achieve its flavor and beautiful color.
The queen bee gin cocktail | Something New For Dinner
Butterfly pea blossoms provide the extravagant purple color. What I love about the gin is it pours out a deep indigo blue and then changes color depending on what you mix it with. The final cocktail may be lavender, pink, grape or bright fuchsia. How fun is that? The queen bee gin cocktail | Something New For Dinner Additional botanicals include juniper, grapefruit peel, coriander seed, cinnamon bark, rose petal and ginger root. Consider experimenting with with one or more of these botanicals when garnishing your drinks made with Empress 1980 gin. I like to use large over-sized square ice cubes and place my garnishes right on top of the cube.
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Add a Little Heat to The Queen Bee with Mike's Hot Honey

You can subtly change the flavor of this cocktail by varying the honey you use. For this version I like to use Mike's Hot Honey to give the drink a spicy kick. You make a honey syrup by heating 50% honey and 50% water just enough to dissolve the honey. I typically heat it for a few seconds in the microwave to get the honey to go into solution.
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If you are not familiar with Mike's Hot Honey, you will thank me for the introduction. It is a wonderful cheese accompaniment and is delicious on everything from pizza, to corn bread, to salmon, not to mention a variety of cocktails. This is not a single-purpose condiment; you will put it on everything! It also makes a wonderful hostess gift.

The Queen Bee Gin Cocktail

Prep

Total

Yield 2 cocktails

This riff on a 3-ingredient Prohibition era Bees Knees gin cocktail is as delicious as it is gorgeous. Made with Empress 1908 vodka, lemon juice and Mike's Hot Honey, you will find you are whipping up these refreshing cocktails with no more work than a couple flicks of the wrist.

Ingredients

For the honey syrup:

  • 5 ounces Mikes Hot Honey, or any honey
  • 5 ounces hot water

For the cocktail:

  • 4 ounces Empress 1908 gin
  • 1.5 freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 ounce honey syrup
  • Handful of ice
  • 2 large oversized ice cubes
  • Optional garnishes: edible flowers, lemon zest, rosemary sprigs

Instructions

For the honey syrup:

  1. The honey syrup is made with 50% honey and 50% water. Use hot water and whisk the water and honey together. If the honey does not go completely into solution, then pop it in the microwave for 15 or 20 seconds and whisk again. Repeat in the microwave if needed. This honey syrup recipe makes enough for 10 cocktails. It will store in your cupboard for a week or two if you don't use it up before then!
  2. You can use any kind of honey, and the unique flavor of the honey will effect the flavor of the cocktail. I love Mike's Hot Honey and think that this chili-infused honey gives this version of a Bees Knees cocktail a nice little kick. You can use all Mike's Hot Honey or tone down the kick by blending with regular honey.

For the cocktail:

  1. Add gin, lemon juice and honey syrup to a cocktail shaker along with a handful of ice cubes. Shake vigorously for about 10-15 seconds until condensation forms on the shaker. 
  2. Put one large oversized ice cube in each of two highball glasses. Strain shaken cocktail into glasses.
  3. Place a piece of lemon zest, an edible flower and a small sprig of rosemary on top of the cube. Enjoy!

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