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The Gold Rush cocktail is tangy, refreshing and classy: a spin on the whiskey sour using honey! This modern classic has a retro feel.

Gold rush cocktail

This classy cocktail has a retro name and a sweet tart flavor: it’s the Gold Rush! The name makes it sounds like a 1920’s mixed drink, but it’s actually a modern take on the classic whiskey sour. If you’re a lover of bourbon drinks, add this one to your “to do” list. The combination of the zing of the lemon, the nuance of the honey, and the spicy whiskey finish is perfection. Here’s how how to make this modern classic!

What’s a Gold Rush cocktail?

The Gold Rush is not a classic cocktail as the name would imply. This spin on the whiskey sour using honey syrup instead of simple syrup was invented in the mid-2000’s. Bartender T. J. Siegal created it for the Milk & Honey bar in New York City (where the Paper Plane was also invented). The honey gives this cocktail a depth and richness that simple syrup lacks. The Gold Rush cocktail is made with:

  • Bourbon whiskey
  • Lemon juice
  • Honey syrup
Honey syrup

How to make honey syrup

Honey syrup is simple syrup made with honey instead of granulated sugar. It’s seriously easy to whip up a batch: and it adds a rich depth to cocktails of any kind. Here’s what to do:

  1. Add equal parts honey and water to saucepan and heat over medium heat.
  2. Stir until the honey is dissolved (don’t bring to simmer!), about 1 to 2 minutes. Cool to room temperature before using. Keeps in the refrigerator for 1 month.

A few more cocktails that use honey syrup? The Bees Knees, Brown Derby, and Penicillin.

How to make a Gold Rush cocktail

Once you’ve made the honey syrup, the rest of the Gold Rush cocktail is a breeze! All you’ll need is a cocktail shaker: no other fancy tools required! Here are the basic steps (or jump right to the recipe):

  • Shake: Add the bourbon, fresh lemon juice and honey syrup to a cocktail shaker. Fill it with ice and then shake until very cold. Don’t have a cocktail shaker? Use a mason jar with a cover instead.
  • Strain: Strain the drink into a lowball glass. Don’t have a cocktail strainer? Use a fine mesh strainer instead.
  • Garnish: Add ice and a lemon wedge.
Gold rush cocktail

The bourbon to use

You’ll want to use a great bourbon for the Gold Rush! It’s not quite as whiskey-forward as the Old Fashioned or Mint Julep. But with only lemon and honey to balance, the bourbon needs to hold its own.

Our rule of thumb is: buy good liquor to make a good drink! Opt for a bourbon that is mid-priced: that’s typically a general indicator of quality. The bourbon we used was Bulleit Bourbon. We also like to use locally distilled spirits when we can find them.

Step it up: add clear ice!

How to take this Gold Rush to the next level? Add clear ice! Clear ice is crystal clear ice that doesn’t have the cloudiness that normal ice has. You can also cut it into beautiful shapes that look like they’re straight out of a trendy bar. It’s easy to make: all you need is 24 hours and a small cooler. Here’s How to Make Clear Ice.

Gold rush cocktail

When to serve a Gold Rush cocktail

The Gold Rush cocktail is a classy and complex cocktail great for sipping as a:

  • Happy hour drink
  • Dinner party drink
  • Summer drink
  • Late night drinks drink
  • Guys or girls night drink
  • Cocktail hour drink
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Gold Rush cocktail

Gold Rush Cocktail

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 drink 1x


The Gold Rush cocktail is tangy, refreshing and classy: a spin on the whiskey sour using honey! This modern classic has a retro feel. 


  • 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) bourbon
  • 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) fresh lemon juice
  • ¾ ounce (1 ½ tablespoons) honey syrup
  • For the garnish: lemon wedge


  1. Add the bourbon, lemon juice, and honey syrup to a cocktail shaker. Fill with a handful of ice and shake until very cold.
  2. Strain the drink into a lowball or Old Fashioned glass. Serve with ice and a lemon wedge. 
  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Shaken
  • Cuisine: Cocktails
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Keywords: Gold Rush cocktail, Easy bourbon cocktail

More sour cocktails

Sour cocktails are a family of cocktails that combine liquor, citrus, and sweetener. There are so many variations; here are some favorites:

  • New York Sour Make a classic whiskey sour and float a layer of red wine on top. Stunning!
  • Tequila Sour, Vodka Sour or Gin Sour These 1920s sours mix lemon, liquor and an egg white foam.
  • Classic Sidecar One of the best classic cocktails of all time! This sour is the perfect balance of Cognac, Cointreau and lemon.
  • Classic Margarita A spin on the Sidecar, it rose to be one of the most popular of all time.
  • Classic Daiquiri The Classic Daiquiri is actually not frozen! It’s rum, lime juice, and sweetener. Or try a sophisticated spin, the Hemingway Daiquiri.
  • Tom Collins Cocktail A Tom Collins is also known as a gin sour: is light and bubbly with soda water.

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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