When it comes to get-togethers, I have two kinds of friends. Some friends embrace—and maybe even celebrate—my disheveled state and are up for the challenge of dodging Legos and Matchbox cars littered all over the floor. For other friends, I need to pull it together—light a candle and maybe even shower and pull on pants without an elastic waistband. There is space for both kinds of friends in my heart and home.
No matter what type of friend stops by, chances are they deserve a cocktail. For those moments, I have back-pocket cocktail recipes. No matter the (often chaotic) circumstances, these are drinks I can pull together in a pinch without creating more messes. What I serve changes with the season—a batch of Negroni in the fall, Palomas during winter citrus season, and a crisp Aperol Spritz the moment spring hits. The cocktail of the summer for me is a Bee’s Knees Stinger.
What’s a Bee’s Knees Stinger?
You’re probably familiar with its posh older sister, a classic Bee’s Knees, which is made with honey, fresh lemon juice, and gin. It’s slightly sweet and floral, thanks to the honey, but perfectly balanced by the punch of lemon juice and botanical notes from the gin. It’s often served in a fancy glass, which adds to the allure. Though perfect in my eyes, it requires far too much squeezing and shaking for my aging bones.
A Bee’s Knees Stinger is the chiller yet equally fabulous little sister. To make this easy cocktail, I use three ingredients from Trader Joe’s: Fresh Squeezed Lemonade, Spicy Honey Sauce, and gin. (I love the floral citrus notes of Empress 1908 Indigo Gin, which is available at Trader Joe’s locations that are licensed to sell spirits.)
I combine the gin, lemonade, and spicy honey syrup in a large pitcher and set it in the fridge. When ready to serve, I pour it over a rocks-filled Collins glass garnished with a slice of lemon—truly the bee’s knees. The spicy honey gives this cocktail a pleasant edge. It’s a sweet, spicy, and floral concoction that always hits the spot on a hot summer day.
The 3-Ingredient Trader Joe’s Bee’s Knees Stinger That’s Perfect for Summer
To make about six servings, you’ll need:
Make the honey syrup: In a small saucepan, combine the spicy honey and 1/4 cup water. Bring it to a gentle simmer and cook until the honey fully dissolves, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool completely. You can make the spicy honey syrup up to a month in advance, and keep it in the fridge.
Make the cocktail: To a large pitcher, add 1/4 cup of the cooled honey syrup (reserve the rest in the fridge), gin, and lemonade. Stir with a cocktail spoon or long wooden spoon, then set in the fridge until ready to serve.
Garnish and serve: To serve, fill six Collins glasses with ice. Give the cocktail a good stir, then divide it among the prepared glasses. Garnish with a fresh lemon wheel.
This is a pretty high-octane cocktail, so to make it slightly more sippable, I serve it with a splash (about 2 ounces per cocktail) of mineral water or club soda.