Liquor On The Mountain: Three-Ingredient Drinks are the Bees’ Knees

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Hello possum-friends! We’re at Camp this week, CAN YOU TELL? And one of the new workshops Alex Vega and I are running this Camp is cocktail making, and we’re focusing on three-ingredient drinks because they’re awesome and everyone who wants to mix drinks should know a few good ones.

Now I know sometimes I can get a little complicated with my drinks (like when I grew a special kind of mint just for a pun). But that’s because this is my fun and I get to pretend I’m a potions student at Hogwarts. Practically speaking, you want to know a couple of quick n’ easy drinks for surprise company or to prevent panic ordering at a bar with an unfamiliar spread.

It’s also good to know three ingredient drinks because they’re easy to scale in your head—if you’re mixing for you and a friend, just multiply everything by two real quick without having to write things out because otherwise you forget them and, what? No, of course when I double my complex drinks I don’t have to write it down and put it on my bar because I will almost definitely fuck it up if I don’t do that, you’re nuts.

Three-ingredient drinks are also easy to perfect to your taste — too sweet? Less of the sugar. Too sour? Less of the juice! Too drunk? Your alcohol ratio may be off. Because there are only three ingredients, nothing is doing subtle work and you can pick out your ‘culprit.’ It’s also then easy to riff on a three-ingredient drink if you want to do something more complex, which is easier to talk through if we’ve got an example in front of us. That brings me to today’s drink:


The Bees’ Knees

(or the Bee’s Knees? I’m choosing to go with the plural possessive because no one bee is responsible for the honey. Or we could call it the Beeses Kneeses.)

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You will need:

  • a shaker
  • a jigger
  • some ice
  • 1/4 oz. honey
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 2 oz. gin (I’m using The Botanist in my house, but we’ll be using Farmers Organic on the mountain).
  • lemon peel to garnish
  • and obvi a glass to serve it in. I’m using a jam jar DO YOU SEE A PATTERN HERE?

Fill your shaker about a third of the way full with ice. Have I ever said why you shake some drinks and stir others? I can’t remember. Shaking is reserved for things you really need to mix up like eggs or fruit juices or simple syrup. Stirring is for when the drink is made with ALL LIQUOR. (There are a few three-ingredient drinks that are all liquor — the Negroni pops to mind.) Never put seltzer, soda or tonic water in a shaker. You’d think I wouldn’t have to say that, because common sense, but the thing about people shaking drinks who don’t do it on the reg is that they’re usually a bit tipsy and logic no longer applies to them. I have received a few text messages asking me about seltzer in a shaker. But I digress, as there’s no seltzer in this recipe. Onward!

Juice your lemon! Slice your lemon length-wise for optimal juice. I don’t know why it works, but it does.

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Measure out 1/2 oz. lemon juice and pour it into the icy shaker. Then go with the 1/4 oz. honey.

Now there’s almost no way you’re going to come out of this without a honey-finger. (My fiancée: “you could get a spoon or a knife so you could scrape it against the side or… or your finger, okay”) Life is more fun when you have a gal pal or other sort of buddy to lick it off for you.

Add the 2 oz. of gin and SHAKE SHAKE SHAKE.

Strain into a cute glass and serve to your cute pal.

Yoooo, why does my table look super red in this photo??

Yoooo, why does my table look super red in this photo??


Now remember I was talking about three ingredient drinks being cool to riff on? Let’s figure out what kind of things we could do once we have this perfected. Oooh, oh, for a real easy variation, how about throwing in a 1/4 oz. of orange juice for funsies? Or, if you really want to Hogwarts it up, you could make a lavender infused gin and garnish with lavender! See, the possibilities are endless when you have a solid base. I bet y’all can come up with some other tasty variations on your own.

Staff Writer for Autostraddle, Part-time Faculty at The New School (teaching digital storytelling), Managing Editor for Scholar & Feminist Online at Barnard Center for Research On Women. Follow me on Twitter @AEOsworth or on Instagram, also @AEOsworth.

A.E. has written 544 articles for us.

12 Comments

  1. I made a drink almost like this about 2 weeks ago totally by mistake. I thought I was using vodka and making an Adult Limeade (like a lemon drop cocktail with both lemon and lime juice). But I grabbed the Gin (I use Spring 44 Gin and Spring 44 Vodka…they have similar labels). Also, I used agave nectar instead of honey. It was surprisingly good, but next time I want a Gin drink, I’ll be making this the right way!

  2. This is my all-time favorite cocktail! One of the bars at Disney World makes a good one that’s pretty sweet with “bluecoat gin, breckinridge bitters, fresh citrus, honey syrup, and an orange blossom/honey foam” (from their menu). There’s also a ’20s-style speakeasy in Tampa called Ciro’s that makes it with the gin, lemon juice, and honey, but I find theirs to be very sour. They do have a variation called “the Cat’s Meow” that sweetens it up a bit with lavender syrup.

    I prefer to make this at home because I can personalize it. I use 1.5 oz Citadelle gin, 0.5 oz. lemon juice, and 1 oz. honey. Because the honey crystallizes so fast in the shaker and most of it is left behind when you strain, I use a full shot and shake it/strain it twice.

    A more expedient method is to use a taller glass to stir together the lemon juice, gin, and a half shot (0.5 oz) honey to better incorporate the honey. Then I pour the mixture into the shaker, shake it to chill and finish mixing, then strain it into a martini glass. This uses more glassware than the above method but wastes less honey if you like it a little sweeter.

    • Bert Cooper on Mad Men drinks ‘spirits of elderflower’ which sounds like a Victorian-era seance beverage. A fancy brunch place in my city serves a elderflower-based champagne drink (variation on a mimosa) and it blew me away; never had elderflower before. You can order elderflower syrup online to mix with your own drinks; I’m tempted.

    • I made elderflower syrup once- with blooms from my grandfathers bushes. it was so beautiful watching the tiny white flowers swirling in the pan… and tasted wonderful.

    • Oh em gee, I’m obsessed with all things elderflower. If St. Germain is too pricey (which it is) go to Ikea instead — they sell an elderflower drink concentrate that you can (and should) use istead of simple syrup in delicious, flowery, magical cocktails.

  3. Speaking of Howgwarts-ing, I once found a website that had Harry otter character insprired drinks, one of which invovled Earl Grey infused gin, that would be delicious for this. Also whiskey, like this is basically a whiskey sour with honey, which I’m surprised I’ve never thought to try before.

  4. Hi Ali!!! Bees Knees is my spirit cocktail. Have been making it all spring!! I use St. George Botanivore gin! Definitely will be Hogwarts-ing and adding lavender! I wish I could have gone to your class on the mountain! More gin three ingredient cocktails please!!

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