Gold Rush Cocktail

5 from 1 vote
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The Gold Rush cocktail is a simple classic made with whiskey, honey syrup (water and honey), and fresh lemon juice. It’s a refreshing and citrusy cocktail that’s a spin on the classic Whiskey Sour. Although similar concepts, the Gold Rush feels like an entirely different cocktail thanks to the complex floral flavors in honey.

A golden Gold Rush cocktail on a marble surface, served with a giant clear ice cube and lemon peel garnish.

I was recently craving a Bee’s Knees and to my surprise, l was all out of gin. Craving somethign sweet and citrusy with honey and lemon, I ended up settling on the Gold Rush, a near-identical whiskey spin on the Bee’s Knees.

Brief History

The Gold Rush cocktail is a modern-day classic (just like the Paper Plane) that emerged in the early 2000s at the historic Milk & Honey in New York City. The story has it that bartender T.J. Siegal requested his regular whiskey sour, while actually a patron and not working behind the bar, but opted for honey syrup instead of simple syrup. The cocktail was born.

Looking for similar cocktails? The Gold Rush also has a similar vibe to the Whiskey Sour, Hot Toddy, and Brown Derby.

Ingredients

Gold Rush cocktail ingredients laid out on a wooden cutting board.
  • Bourbon: Elijah Craig is my preferred bourbon for most bourbon cocktails, however, a high-proof bourbon such as Old Forester 100 makes this a little more spirit forward so you can still taste the bourbon.
  • Fresh lemon juice: always opt for fresh citrus for best results. A citrus squeezer makes this a really simple task. In a pinch, use ReaLemon.
  • Honey syrup: honey syrup is simple syrup made with equal parts of honey and water. It’s easier to make than simple syrup as the honey will more easily dissolve in warm water, unlike sugar

See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities below.

How to Make a Gold Rush

Step 1.

Combine bourbon, lemon juice, and honey syrup in a mixing glass (image 1a). Add ice, pref large cubes, and stir 10-15 times with a bar spoon (image 1b).

A hand pouring a jigger of bourbon into a mixing glass.
Stirring a Gold Rush cocktail in a mixing glass with two large ice cubes.

Step 2.

Strain into a chilled double-old-fashioned glass over a giant ice cube.

Straining a Gold Rush cocktail into a frozen double old fashioned glass over a giant ice cube.

Step 3.

Garnish with a twist of lemon. Optionally slice the edges to form a fancy shape.

A lemon peel on a wooden cutting board with the edges trimmed neatly.
A Gold Rush cocktail garnished with a Lemon peel twist on a wooden cutting board.

Expert Tips

  • For expressing the lemon peel, point the outer peel (non-pith side) outward facing the drink and gently squeeze the edges so the oils spray out over the top of the drink. If done properly, you can see an oily film floating on the surface of your cocktail. It’s easiest done with two hands.
  • Use a Y-peeler for making citrus peels. This is the easiest way to get a thin peel with minimal pith.
  • Chill your glasses ahead of time in the freezer to keep your drinks cooler for longer. This is one of my favorite tricks in the summer.
  • Use a clear ice tray to easily make crystal clear ice at home with little effort.

Serving Variations

Traditionally the gold rush is served on the rocks with a giant ice cube and lemon peel. I’ve played around with serving in a chilled coup (no ice) and have liked both. Like the Whiskey Sour, it’s a well-balanced cocktail that doesn’t need to steep in ice.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make this cocktail with rye?

While bourbon is traditional, rye can work as well. Rye isn’t as sweet as bourbon so you will likely need closer to 3/4 ounces of honey syrup.

Can I substitute Simple Syrup?

While you can, you will be making a Whiskey Sour, not a Gold Rush. Honey adds complex honey notes that enhance the entire drinking experience.

More Cocktails You’ll Love

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5 from 1 vote

Gold Rush Cocktail

Servings: 1 cocktail
Prep: 5 minutes
Total: 5 minutes
The Gold Rush cocktail is a simple classic made with whiskey, honey syrup (water and honey), and fresh lemon juice.

Ingredients 

  • 2 ounces bourbon, I prefer 95-100 proof bourbon
  • 1 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 ounce honey syrup

Honey Syrup (Makes 1/2 cup)

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup hot water

Instructions 

  • Combine bourbon, lemon juice, and honey syrup in a mixing glass. Add ice, pref large cubes, and stir 10-15 times with a bar spoon.
  • Strain into a chilled double-old fashioned glass over a giant ice cube.
  • Garnish with a twist of lemon

Honey Syrup

  • Heat water in a microwavable safe measuring cup for about 45 seconds to 1 minute until warm (not boiling).
  • Sir in honey until fully dissolved and golden. Store in the fridge in a mason jar or plastic squeeze bottle for up to a month.

Notes

For expressing the lemon peel, point the outer peel (non-pith side) outward facing the drink and gently squeeze the edges so the oils spray out over the top of the drink. If done properly, you can see an oily film floating on the surface of your cocktail. It’s easiest done with two hands.
Use a Y-peeler for making citrus peels. This is the easiest way to get a thin peel with minimal pith.
Chill your glasses ahead of time in the freezer to keep your drinks cooler for longer. This is one of my favorite tricks in the summer.
Use a clear ice tray to easily make crystal clear ice at home with little effort.

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 202kcalCarbohydrates: 18.1gProtein: 0.3gFat: 0.2gSaturated Fat: 0.2gSodium: 7mgFiber: 0.2gSugar: 18.1g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Cocktail
Cuisine: American
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About Shawn Williams

My name is Shawn, author behind Kitchen Swagger. I'm a food & drink enthusiast bringing you my own simple and delicious restaurant-inspired recipes.

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