One of the wonderful classic cocktails that can only be made with Applejack is the Bee’s Knees, a name that is as apropos as it is fun to say. We found this recipe in the Bartender’s Guide by Trader Vic. Ol’ Vic was the king of the west coast Tiki bar scene from the 1940s through the 60s. You know, back when Tiki bars were un-ironically, and unabashedly cool as hell. Though the debate still rages, Trader Vic is also one of two men who claimed to have invented the Mai Tai.
Now we’re going to post two slightly different recipes here. The first is Trader Vic’s recipe and you’ll notice that the volume is smaller, as was generally the case at the time. But more important than that, Vic’s recipe calls for honey. Now we tried this recipe, and found that even after vigorous shaking (we’re talking a full minute of all-out, man-on-shaker aggression) the honey ended up in a glob at the bottom of the shaker.
So after some experimentation we developed a second recipe that uses honey syrup. This is the same as simple syrup, but made with honey rather than sugar. (Find out how to make simple syrup here.) Due to the change though, we shifted the proportions of the recipe and that’s what we’ve posted second. The result is an excellent cocktail that balances sweet and tart, with a hint of apple in the finish. The perfect cocktail for the transition from summer to autumn.
Trader Vic’s Bee’s Knees
1 oz applejack
1 oz lemon juice
1 tsp honey
Boozehound Bee’s Knees
1 part applejack
1 part lemon juice
1 part honey syrup
Combine all the ingredients into a shaker half filled with ice and shake vigorously until chilled. Strain into a cocktail glass.
Pro Tip: Be sure to make your honey syrup from equal parts honey and water. It’s easy for this cocktail to end up overly tart.