Ginger Bee's Knees Cocktail

Your new best friend is here: the Ginger Bee's Knees cocktail. It's unexpected and so complexly flavored, but still approachable and simple to make at home. It has been on repeat in our house all winter and I'm very happy to be sharing it with you.

This cocktail is based on the Prohibition-era cocktail called "Bee's Knees", which is a gin cocktail with lemon and honey. We've gotten many Bee's Knees at one of our favorite restaurants near home, Waterworks in Winooski VT. It's a lovely drink, and the bright honey and lemon pair so nicely with the flavors of the gin.

However, although the Bee's Knees is great in the summer, for me it's a little too light and fresh for the colder times of the year. The colder months leave me searching for more robust, complex flavors and darker-colored alcohols.

Enter my winter adaptation: the Ginger Bee's Knees. A few key swaps make this perfect for sipping in front of the fire.

First, I use aged gin in place of regular. If you haven't tried aged gin before, the time is now! It's barrel-aged and develops a deep amber color and a more complex flavor profile somewhat reminiscent of whiskey or aged tequila. Second, I add homemade ginger syrup in place of some of the honey. The ginger gives it that warm, cozy, wintry feel and really complements the subtle bourbon notes that develop during the gin's time in the barrel.

These two swaps make for a cocktail that is surprisingly complex. The lemon and honey keep it light, but the ginger and aged gin make it feel right for a cold, dark night. The aged gin still maintains its identity as a gin, but it's like a gin with a fuzzy sweater on.

I can't discuss this drink without a major shout-out to a really incredible spirit made in Vermont: the Tom Cat from Caledonia Spirits. It's an aged gin (made from honey!) that is solely responsible for changing my opinions about gin.

As someone who has traditionally been a drinker of aged tequila and very aged bourbon, gin was never on my radar. I just didn't understand it. But my first sip of the Tom Cat completely changed my perspective; it created a bridge for me between aged spirits and gin. I call it my "gateway to gin". This is a really exceptional product made by great people, I highly suggest it!

Enjoy this drink on a chilly fall, winter, or early spring evening. It pairs particularly nicely with fall foods like squash, root veggies, and apples. Bees retreat to their hives for the winter (at least in Vermont!), and this cocktail makes me feel like a fuzzy little bee, cozy in my hive.

Please share your creation so I can see how you've interpreted the concept! Tag "The Rogue Brussel Sprout" on Facebook or hashtag #theroguebrusselsprout on Instagram.

Like the idea of a ginger cocktail? Then check out Ginger Margaritas too!

Thoughts About Ingredients
(These are all just suggestions, since rogue is more fun than recipe)
  • Aged gin (~2 oz per drink). We adore the Tom Cat from Caledonia Spirits and recommend it highly, but any aged gin will work.
  • Homemade ginger syrup (~0.25-0.5 oz per drink). Take a few inches worth of ginger, peel it, and slice into medallions. Make a simple syrup by boiling it with 1:1 sugar:water until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. The more ginger you add, the spicier your syrup will be. This will keep in the fridge for a long time, so make a big batch and save extras.
  • Honey simple syrup (~0.25 oz per drink). Heat equal parts honey and water and stir to make a syrup that you can easily add to any cocktail.
  • Lemon juice (~0.25-0.5 oz per drink). Fresh squeezed is the only way to go.
  • Garnishes. I like to use a piece of crystallized ginger and sometimes a lemon slice. Honeycomb would be pretty too.
Thoughts About Method
(These are all just suggestions, be creative and make it yours) 

  1. Prep your ingredients. Squeeze the lemon, make and cool the syrups, and cut your garnishes. All of this can be done in advance if you're having guests.
  2. In a cocktail stirring glass, stir together your ingredients with some ice. 
  3. Give it a taste and adjust. I would recommend starting with modest sweeteners and adding more if you feel the need, but use a delicate hand so you don't overwhelm the complex flavors of the gin.
  4. Serve over a couple big ice cubes and with any garnishes that inspire you.


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