I'll admit that my deepest fear is the sting of a bee, a wasp, a jellyfish and even a flu shot. I also fiercely believe that at least one of these things needs to be around for a long, long time — the honeybee.
Bees are now on the endangered species list, but one small way we can help to strengthen their numbers this week is to order the Bee's Knees cocktail at select bars and restaurants across the country. Five places in Austin are participating in the nationwide Bee's Knees Week, as organized by Vermont distillery Caledonia Spirits.
The maker of Barr Hill Gin, which contains raw honey mixed with juniper and other botanicals, has organized Bee's Knees Week for the third year running to shine "a spotlight on the importance of bees in our food and drink system," according to Caledonia. The celebration of the honeybee and of the Bee's Knees cocktail runs through Sunday this year. And all we have to do, as consumers, is head to participating spots and order the drink.
In Austin, Gin Bar, the Eleanor, Holy Roller, Dive Bar & Lounge, and Better Half Coffee & Cocktails have a Bee's Knees or other honey-heavy cocktails on the menu that benefit the cause behind Bee's Knees Week. For every drink sold, $1 will go toward building educational beehives. The Bee's Knees is a classic, Prohibition-era cocktail featuring only three ingredients — gin, honey syrup and lemon juice.
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At Better Half, which also participated in Bee's Knees Week last year, there are four drinks you can order to help the cause. In addition to the classic served with Barr Hill Gin, Better Half has the Queen Bee (lemon, honey, Amaretto, Aperol and bitters) and a frozen Rosemary Bee's Knees served in an Instagram-ready bear-shaped glass. And for people who want caffeine and no booze, a rosemary honey latte is now on the menu.
Bees were declared the most important living beings on the planet this summer by the Earthwatch Institute — namely because these little winged creatures are responsible for the survival of 70 percent of the world's agriculture.
Initiatives like Bee's Knees Week aim to help the bees flourish despite their endangered status. Since 2017, Bee's Knees Week participants have collectively donated more than $31,000 to organizations devoted to preserving the honeybee and its crucial pollinating role in the world's ecosystem, according to Caledonia Spirits.
For more information, visit caledoniaspirits.com/bees-knees-week.