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Cheers! A bright, citrusy drink for a hot summer day

Lester Graham
Michigan Radio
Some of the ingredients for the Beer's Knees.

Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
Tammy Coxen shakes ingredients for the Beer's Knees.

With summer finally arriving, let’s look at a great new summer drink.

“This is a twist on a classic cocktail called the Bee’s Knees, but we’re going to put some beer into it and make it a Beer’s Knees,” Tammy Coxen of Tammy’s Tastings said.

‘Bee’s knees’ was slang in the 1920s for ‘the best,’ as in, “That’s just the bee’s knees!” The Bee’s Knees cocktail was a simple mixture of gin, lemon juice, and honey syrup first introduced during Prohibition.

“They used honey syrup instead of a regular simple syrup because the honey would help cover up the bad taste of the gin during Prohibition,” Tammy said.

With good gin, the addition of honey syrup makes for a really great combination.

The beer Tammy used for this new cocktail is from Old Nation Brewery in Williamston. M-43 is a New England style India Pale Ale (IPA). It’s become very popular because of its big citrus notes from a combination of Calypso, Simcoe, Citra and Amarillo hops. It doesn’t have the kind of hop bitterness that some IPAs have.

The gin comes from Michigan’s newest distillery. Wise Men Distillery is based in Grand Rapids. Tammy knew the gin because she’s been designing cocktails for the distillery. It’s a gin in the London Dry style.

The Beer’s Knees has a lot of citrus notes from the IPA and lemon juice, with a hint of juniper from the gin and very slight bitterness from the hops in the IPA.

Tammy says it would be a great cocktail to sip after a hot day of mowing the lawn.

Beer’s Knees

2 oz gin (we used Wise Men Distillery)

1/2 oz lemon juice

1/2 oz honey syrup (2 parts honey to 1 part hot water)

1 1/2 oz M-43 (or other IPA)

Combine all except beer in a shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into a rocks glass. Top with IPA and fill with ice.

Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Radio from 1998-2010.
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