Dress British Drink Yiddish: The Bee's Knees Cocktail

I don't know that there is anything obviously Jewish about the Bee's Knees cocktail. Its ingredients are gin, lemon, and honey, and I suppose if you made it with citron instead of lemon it might feel a little Hebraic, but, as is, no. Its name comes from Flapper slang, which I find delightful, and there certainly were Jewish flappers, but there is no reason to assume they invented this particular phrase, and the phrase may have been created in honor of Charleston queen Bee Jackson, who was not Jewish. The cocktail's place of origin isn't notably Jewish, either: The upscale Hotel Ritz Paris, founded by Swiss hotelier César Ritz and famous for its chef, Auguste Escoffier, neither of whom were Jewish.

But the Ritz also has a famous bar, and a famous bartender, and here's where things get Jewish. His name was Frank Meier, and he ran the Ritz Bar from 1921 to 1947. Meier invented several cocktails, including the Bee's Knees, and I am going to cover them all. I will note that the origin of this cocktail is disputed, but, then, the origins of all cocktails are disputed, and so we need merely note the dispute and move on.

Moving on: Meier's own biography is a little vague. He was likely Austrian, and he was either wholly or part Jewish, depending on the source. Tilar J. Mazzeo's book about the Ritz during the Second World War, "The Hotel on Place Vendome," has Meier as both Jewish and passing secret messages onto resistance soldiers, and I always find it weird to discuss Judaism in percentage, like it were a national heritage rather than a cultural one. Whatever percent Jewish his ancestry was, he was Jewish enough for our sake.

Meier wrote a classic book on the cocktail called "The Artistry of Mixing Drinks," where the Bee's Knees appears. The recipe is a classic example of traditional mixology, depending on a few ingredients that highlight the taste of the base liquor. It is as follows:

Bees’ Knees
In shaker: the juice of one-quarter Lemon, a teaspoon of Honey, one-half glass [one-ounce] of Gin; shake well and serve.

Honey can be a bit hard to mix, so modern bartenders typically make it with honey syrup, which is just honey dissolved in boiling water, and the completed cocktail is often offered with a lemon twist to garnish.

How is it? I suppose it depends on how you like lemon, as that is the dominant flavor, sweetened slightly by the honey. I happen to like lemon, and it blends well with gin; depending on the gin you use, the liquor's flavor will be more or less prominent. One supposed if you are not a fan of gin, vodka can be substituted, as with vodka gimlets and vodka martinis, but I will be perfectly honest here: People who do that are monsters, absolute monsters.

Finally, if you really want to Judaize the drink, you might consider giving it a Yiddish name. Bee's Knees in Yiddish is Bee's Kneer.

Come to think of it, that's not really that different.