The Bee Sting Is The Spicy Cousin Of The Classic Bee's Knees Cocktail

Bee sting in coupe glass with lemons
Bee sting in coupe glass with lemons - New Africa/Shutterstock

The Bee's Knees isn't just an age-old expression for something you happen to find delightful. It's also a classic cocktail with a long history, comprised of gin, lemon juice, and honey. The story is that it was developed in Paris during U.S. Prohibition and was a twist on an already iconic drink, the gin sour — only substituting standard sugar for a richer, more luxurious honey as the sweet element.

But like so many of the best drinks, bartenders lovingly continue to riff on classic frameworks to find new ways to enjoy without reinventing the wheel. Such is the case for the Bee Sting. With some very subtle changes to the recipe, fans of the classic get to enjoy something entirely new — in this case, featuring a kick. The spice element can come from different sources, but no matter the spin, it brings heat that the citrusy flavor and honey sweetness balance perfectly, making this an easy new addition to the cocktail canon.

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Ways To Build A Bee Sting

Bee sting with jalapeno and mint
Bee sting with jalapeno and mint - New Africa/Shutterstock

While drink-makers agree that this adaptation is spicy, there are several ways you can kick up your gin drink to achieve the heat. A relatively new entry into the liqueur category is Ancho Reyes, a versatile chile-based liqueur from Mexico that's perfect for a spicy cocktail twist, the recipe for which dates back to the same era as the Bee Sting itself, 1927. This subtly smoky sipper sneaks up with its peppery heat and complements the original's gin, lemon, and honey.

Alternatively, you can abandon the gin altogether and opt for an oaky reposado tequila-based spin on the Bee Sting or a smoke-tinged mezcal and muddle a slice of jalapeno to bring on the spice element. This variation gives your standard margarita a run for its money and has a different depth and complexity from the aged spirit in contrast to the lighter, botanical-forward gin.

Another way to easily add a little fire and convert your original Bees Knees to a Bee Sting is simply to swap out your usual honey syrup element with hot honey instead. Regardless of how you spin it, garnish your Bee Sting with a lemon peel and even a bright and fresh herb like mint, and brace for a satisfying spice.

Further Variations On The Bee Sting

bee sting with pineapple and jalapeno
bee sting with pineapple and jalapeno - apolonia/Shutterstock

Like most cocktails in the sour category (a group of libations that feature a spirit, a sour component, and a balancing sweetener), the base drink is easily adaptable and perfect as a platform for your inspiration. The flavor profile of a bee sting, with its spice, citrus, sweetness, and spirit-forward format, lends itself well to all kinds of additions.

Ginger — in the form of ginger beer, ale, or even ginger liqueur — pairs perfectly with all elements of your drink and brings a little zip to the whole affair. You can also experiment with different peppers, like serrano, habańero, or even a burnt cayenne honey syrup for extra smoke character. Swap out your lemon for blood orange for a beautifully bright and pleasantly potent spicy sipper, or even opt for pineapple juice for a tropical twist. Or try it with bourbon and grapefruit liqueur instead, and even include egg white or aquafaba for a frothy and fragrant foam. There are so many ways to make your Bee Sting sing if you're a drinker who desires a little heat.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.