World Honey Market products are produced in a small, rural community in Baker County, Florida. As with many small towns, history has a way of assigning them their own unique claim to fame. While we hope to make our mark and leave a lasting local legacy, since the earliest settlers to the area, this region's claim to fame has been moonshine.
There is a wonderfully colorful narrative passed down about settlers ambling their way to Baker County hoping for nothing more than to make an honest living for their families by growing crops and raising livestock, only to be thwarted by the ravages of mother nature. From things like hookworms, boll-weevils, and of course the Great Depression these early settlers had a rough. When the going got tough they turned to alternative means of income.
The making of illegal whiskey afforded the farmers food for their tables and clothes for their backs. Considered an art form by many, the people who worked in the profession became known as moonshiners. The tales of moonshiners now has a glorious romanticism about it, farmers by day, plowing their fields and planting their crops and secretly making their moonshine with little more than moonlight to deftly guide them as they created their strange brew. The thing is, it does make for a good story.
From the 1920s to around the 1940s moonshine was primarily made by local farmers with a side hustle, crudely brewing homemade whiskey with river water and homemade cane syrup or honey as sugar often wasn't available or affordable. In the earliest days, it was sold around turpentine camps and local bars. The term bootlegger later emerged when inventory began to be moved and sold out of the county. The industry grew and expanded over each decade and with each new generation.
By World War II most farmers had quit the business due to mounting pressure from state and federal lawmen. Whether they left the business or were forced out is hard to say as the increased presence of police officers began to cover the area with a more watchful eye and saw to destroying the often primitive stills.
However, after the war, a new generation found ways to speed the illegal industry and advanced to a more elaborate system of making shine. The illegal industry had grown to the point where the moonshine was hauled from Baker County in loaded semi-trucks solidifying the county's reputation as 'Shine Capitol of the State' throughout the region and country as a whole.
Unsurprisingly as more and more people moved to the area and nearby Jacksonville gained popularity the citizens of Baker County decided enough was enough and began a campaign to “clean up” the area and put an end to their shine notoriety.
Despite their best efforts even some 70 years later, moonshine is still pretty easy to come by in the area. From the local liquor store selling from the Ol Smoky Tennessee distillery to relics from the county’s backyard shiners of the past. Moonshine never really left North Florida.
This rich history was what gave us the idea to modify a traditional Bee’s Knees Cocktail for this week’s recipe.
In fact, the bee’s knees itself is a prohibition area drink. The lemon juice and honey syrup were used to mask the flavor of cheap bathtub gin. The name undoubtedly comes from the use of honey, but during that time, “Bee’s Knees” was common slang for the best or something that is great.
And this cocktail truly is, the Bee’s Knees.
World Honey Market Bee’s Knees Moonshine Cocktail Recipe
2 oz. moonshine
1 oz. honey syrup made with World Honey Market honey
0.75 oz. fresh lemon juice
Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice.
Shake vigorously to chill, and strain into a cocktail glass.
Garnish with a lemon slice.
Enjoy and drink responsibly.
How to make honey syrup using World Honey Market Honey
Mix equal parts honey and warm water and stir until combined.
Side note: Do bees even have knees? Well, yes they do, kind of. Their legs have several joints like most insects, but we just don’t call them knees. They function in the same way, though. The joint that is the most like a knee is located between the femur and tibia on the insect.