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A Bees Knees Please: A Jacksonville Cocktail Journey

By Lyn Gabrielsen

I first tasted a Bees Knees on Thursday, March 12, 2020, the sad day we canceled THE PLAYERS Championship. My husband, Jimmy, and I left TPC and headed to Valley Smoke for dinner.  I love gin, and I love honey, so when the drink arrived with one of those big, fat ice cubes with a fancy lemon twist, I was in heaven. But, as we all know, I was not to taste a Bee’s Knees for many months, and boring red wine became my choice of beverage as my waist will testify.

Fast forward a year….back at the bar at Valley Smoke.  “A Bee’s Knees, please.” It was just as I remembered.  Perfect. 

Because I’m a nerd and have lots of free time, I decided to research my resurrected, favorite cocktail. 

The Bee’s Knees was a Prohibition era cocktail credited to Frank Meier, bartender at the Hotel Ritz Paris in the 1920’s.  I like this drink even more! Paris!  Prohibition!  Supposedly, the rich honey and lemons disguised the subpar gin that was available during these scandalous times.  And, because I have kids who can now drive/don’t need me and a husband who travels/can cook for himself, I have the time to taste other Bee’s Knees in Ponte Vedra! 

Medure has a yummy version with a hint of lavender!  Friends Devon and Danny Witt let me crash their date night, and we sipped cocktails and munched on their simple, yet so good, charcuterie.  Medure serves its Bee’s Knees in a martini glass sans ice cube.

A couple of nights later, my husband Jimmy and I tasted the Bee’s Knees at Julep.  It is refreshing, too, especially with the garlic-rich calzones! 

A few days later, I went across the bridge (gasp) and tasted a gimlet (almost a Bees Knees but with lime, rather than lemon) at Prati Italia at Town Center.  The honey was rich and thick, and I loved it.

And finally, for my last stop, I visited my daughter’s employer, 3 Palms, where J.R. made a special Bee’s Knees for me with extra honey syrup and a bread service that rivals any I’ve had.  The drink and the golf course view (and the view of my beautiful daughter flitting around the restaurant) made this Bee’s Knees experience one of the best.

 I’m not going to pick ONE favorite because I don’t want to, and I haven’t tasted Ruth’s Chris’s or Nona Blue’s or Aqua Grill’s, etc, etc.  

I will say that the Gabrielsen Bar and Grill does not serve a good Bee’s Knees.  I tried.  How hard can it be to make this drink? Amazon delivered fat ice cube trays.  I made honey syrup and squeezed lemons.  Added Tanqueray gin.  Something was missing. My Bee’s Knees tasted more like the Cat’s Meow! But, I’ll work on it.  We’ve got supper club coming up soon, and the Bee’s Knees could be possibly be our signature drink.  You do know that supper clubs have to present a signature drink, right?

About the Author: Lyn Gabrielsen is the high school English teacher you wish you’d had and a tireless champion for her schools and charities. A Macon, GA native, she now resides in Ponte Vedra Beach.

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