Bee’s Knees, the absolute Dog’s Bollocks

 

Wally

This is Wally.

He is a one-time shelter cat who has lived in the lap of luxury with my family for 11 of his 12 years. He is much nicer than our last cat Georgie who was definitely smarter but showed her hatred of him to her very last breath at 19 years old.

Old Wally here is a lovely guy, but he’s no Einstein. And frankly, he’s a bit of a disappointment to us.

Not solely because he urinates in the heating vents – although that is indeed challenging – but because he does nothing that would ever get him on Cats Make You Laugh Out Loud.

Wally can’t play the piano, use the toilet, nor will he ride around on a robotic vacuum cleaner in a shark suit. To be fair, we don’t have a robotic vacuum cleaner and have never tried to put him in a shark outfit but we just know.

Wally’s not that kind of cat.

We love him but could never put him in a onesie and say he was the cat’s pyjamas.

 

 

And look, maybe that’s ok.

Maybe I don’t need any more excuses to make poor puns and dredge up old-fashioned expressions.

In the 1920s though, when I would have been a bobbed-hair, sassy-chattin’ flapper, Wally’s ordinariness would have posed a problem. When everyone was trotting out the cat’s pyjamas, the duck’s nuts and the elephant’s adenoids by way of saying that something was the best, having a cat that was neither the pyjamas nor the whiskers could have been a struggle.

Small wonder then that during Prohibition some canny cocktail creator mixed a slug of bath-tub gin and lemon juice and then tapped into both the honeycomb and the Zeitgeist to mix up the cocktail known to this day as the Bee’s Knees (we should be thankful that it has retained its 1920s name rather than the updated version – I’m not sure I’m that keen to order a Dog’s Bollocks).

The Bee’s Knees is like the Wally of cocktails. Not famous and possibly a bit too simple.  But lovely all the same.

Take:

60 mL (2oz) Gin

22 ml (0.75oz) freshly squeezed, strained lemon juice

15mL (0.5 oz) honey syrup (mix your honey 50:50 with warm water or it will just shake into an ugly ball in your shaker)

Shake it up with ice. Strain it into glass. Garnish with lemon twist.

(I’m going to slightly up the amount of honey next time – you’ll need to play with it to get your preferred flavour).

Bees Knees.jpg

The Prohibition theory was that the honey would hide the smell of alcohol. I guess that depends on how much you have, but given we are still in flu season, consider the honey and lemon and therapeutic combination.

That aside, it’s tasty, but I’m not sure really is the Bee’s Knees.

No one really knows where the Bee’s Knees expression came from.

One theory is that it is paying homage to one Beatrice “Bee” Jackson, a dancer from the 1920s who could Charleston like nobody’s business with knees flying everywhere. Watch this video and note that she does it in heels too.

She is the Snake’s Hips.

 

 

The expression could also be a corruption of “busy-ness”. As we know, bees are a diligent lot, getting on with the job of packing pollen into their knee sacks with narry a thought for hayfever nor ever stopping for a cappuccino to bitch about how busy they are.

That bees are so busy is important.

 

Bee and blossom.png

 

I think we can all agree that Albert Einstein was a Smart Guy.

He was credited with a lot of important and clever things (ok, he never rode around in a shark suit on a vacuum cleaner but he did conclude in his theory of special relativity that the speed of light in a vacuum is always constant, and that’s also quite impressive I suppose).

But one of the things he’s been credited with is this:

“If bees were to disappear from the globe, humankind would only have four years left to live.”

For good reason, this freaks a lot of people out.

But there’s apparently no evidence that it was actually said by Einstein, although plenty have people have said it does sound like the sort of thing Al would say.

Because he was the cat’s pyjamas (like these Australian scientists who won Eureka Prizes earlier this week for doing some kick-arse work for which we should all be worshipping them like rock stars).

Regardless of who said it, bees are important (and here you can see I am making a play for a Eureka Prize of my own next year) and should definitely have a cocktail named after them.

Things have been looking grim on the bee front for a few years although there has been some reported improvement in 2017 (it is possible that this is what stock-market types refer to as a Dead Cat Bounce but I don’t want to say that out loud in case Wally panics and pisses in the heating vent).

But good news is good news and the Bee’s Knees is a great cocktail to toast the turning of the seasons and the rise in backyard bee-keeping in almost every country Shake, Stir, Muddle gets read in.

Go beekeepers!

The Bee’s Knees isn’t an IBA Official cocktail though and maybe that’s why it hasn’t been getting its time in the sun from a movie perspective.

I haven’t found a movie or television reference to the cocktail, but have found this week’s birthday boy, Jack Black, trotting it out in 2003’s guide to teaching excellence, School of Rock (watch it if you haven’t and watch it again if you have).

 

I love this movie, not least for my alter-ego Summer Hathaway’s demonstration that no matter how cool your rock band is, it don’t mean squat if you haven’t got someone to organise your bus to the gig, appropriate insurances and adequate hydration for your roadies.

That’s right, rock stars. Solid admin is the Bee’s Knees too (so thank your Band Manager or Cocktail Reviewer today).

Cheers!

 

Summer is efficient
Not everyone adequately appreciates efficiency

 

PS There’s a variation called the Oldest Living Confederate Widow which adds two drops of orange bitters and two dashes of Absinthe and I think lifts the cocktail from Wally to the cat’s actual pyjamas.

 

10 thoughts on “Bee’s Knees, the absolute Dog’s Bollocks

  1. Wally’s got it sorted- set the expectation bar low, consistently fail to attain it and people will speak of you lovingly, make excuses for your short comings- then still feed and house you in deserved comfort.
    As to the drink it sounds not much better that metholated spirits and a desolved honey and lemon strepsol…..

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  2. Wally may surprise you yet ShakeStirMuddle. I have observed him lying deep in thought, eyes closed for periods of up to 24 hours a day. I think he is planning something AMAZING, something truly the bees knees. One morning you will wander blearily out of your bedroom, rubbing your eyes, and find him transformed into a shark suited rock n roll star singing his own original composition while simultaneously surfing down the hallway. Just you wait.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And as for you Sandra Hogan: at O’Reilly’s we shall drink a Martini. Without a toothbrush in sight. And THEN we’ll see the Bee’s Knees!

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  3. dear SSM,
    i very much like the sound of this but a 1988 B&S ball has had lifetime consequences and i have had to avoid anything gin-related ever since. if i swap the gin for say rum or brandy is it a bee’s elbow?

    Like

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