Spring is in full swing in the Pacific Northwest. The trees are wearing their best blossoms, lilacs are budding, and bees are out and about collecting pollen to make delicious honey. I also know it's fully Spring because my cocktail preferences have switched from whiskey based cocktails to gin based ones. One of my favorite gin based cocktails is the Bee's Knees. If you've never had one, it's a sweet/tart/herbaceous blend of gin, lemon juice and honey that tastes like the beginning of the season. I highly recommend trying one at the next possible moment.
I suspect it was the timing of the Service Industry Night at The Barrel Thief in Fremont that inspired the Queen Bee. I had the opportunity to showcase The Shrubbery at SIN and I wanted to give guests an opportunity to try two different cocktails, that incorporated two different shrubs. We settled on a rye cocktail that riffs on the Scofflaw, and a rhubarb enhanced Bee's Knees.
I Fought The Law, made with our Lemon Honey Rosemary shrub, is a tasty blend of dry vermouth, rye whiskey and shrub. It's on the savory side of shrub based cocktails, owing to the rye and the tartness of the lemons, and I thought it was the perfect sip for the slightly chill weather we had that night. But my dreams of spring were pinned on the Queen Bee, and it does not disappoint.
For this cocktail you'll want to break out your softer gins, as opposed to a classic London Dry style. Rhubarb is a delicate flavor profile and a more aggressive gin will mask it. I'm a fan of several of our Seattle local craft gins, and highly recommend Seattle Distilling, OOLA, or Copperworks for this. But if you're not in Seattle and don't have access to those, Hendricks gin or Bombay Sapphire would likely also be quite lovely in this.
Beyond the gin, you will also need freshly pressed lemon juice and honey syrup (put 2 parts honey and 1 part water in a sauce pot and heat just until the honey fully dissolves, cool fully and store in an airtight container). If you don't have a citrus press you can use freshly squeezed lemon juice, but the presser will impart some of the citrus peel oils into the mix and I find that adds another level of flavor which makes home cocktails taste more like the ones you find at your favorite bar.
Here then is how you make a Queen Bee:
1.5 ounces gin
.75 ounce Simply Rhubarb shrub
.5 ounce Honey Syrup
.5 ounce lemon juice
Put everything into a shaker with ice and shake until well chilled, about 15-20 seconds. Strain into a rocks glass and topp with ice. Garnish with half a lemon wheel.