The Gold Rush Cocktail

Sweet honey, bright lemon, and belly-warming bourbon combine in the Gold Rush Cocktail for a classic show-stopping drink that’s easy to make, elegant, and fun!

The Gold Rush Cocktail

One thing I absolutely love about making cocktails is the feeling it evokes.

Whether its in the name, the presentation, or the simple or magical (hard to find) ingredients.

The Gold Rush cocktail is one of my favorites because it checks off all the boxes:

  • It’s easy to make
  • Made with simple ingredients
  • Has an awesome name
  • Is so fun to prepare
  • And even more fun to present

I hope you have as much fun as I do when I make the Gold Rush cocktail. Ready to learn all about it? Let’s go!

The Gold Rush Cocktail Ingredients

  • Bourbon – see my notes on which bourbon is best for the Gold Rush below.
  • Lemon juice – use fresh-squeezed lemon juice for the best flavor
  • Honey syrup – here is a simple honey syrup recipe that takes just minutes to make.

What is a Gold Rush Drink?

I like to refer to the Gold Rush drink as the “Honey Syrup Bourbon Cocktail”, or the bourbon honey lemon cocktail.

Or, a Bee’s Knees with bourbon. The Gold Rush drink is also considered a Whiskey Sour with honey instead of simple syrup.

Okay, fine, Gold Rush sounds so much better, but you get my drift.

Erik likes to call it the Whiskey Gold Rush, or the whiskey honey lemon cocktail because we’re simple like that. Lol.

close up showing the Gold Rush Cocktail Recipe strained into a glass filled with ice

The History of the Gold Rush Cocktail

You might’ve heard about Milk & Honey, the famed New York bar where bartender Sam Ross invented The Penicillin Cocktail in 2005.

In 1999, a childhood friend (T.J. Siegal) of the owner (Sasha Petraske), at the same famous bar invented the Gold Rush cocktail.

The story goes that Siegal had just finished a long shift at work when he sat down at the bar at Milk & Honey for his usual Bourbon Sour.  [1]

Siegal asked Petraske to use the honey syrup he had made for a previous order in place of the simple syrup in the Bourbon Sour.

Siegal called it the “Gold Rush.” Of the name, Siegal stated, “I like names that bring a feeling or a thought or a chuckle, not names that have a hidden meaning or connection to the origin of the drink.”

After that, the Gold Rush soon became a hit at Milk & Honey, and is now considered a classic.

Two photos showing How to to make a Gold Rush Cocktail – pouring cocktail from gold shaker into glass 

How to Make a Gold Rush

My favorite thing about making a Gold Rush cocktail? How fancy it looks without being too fussy to make.

First, make this super easy, 5 minute recipe for honey syrup. Then, store it in the refrigerator while you make the Gold Rush.

Second, add bourbon, fresh-squeezed lemon juice, and honey syrup to a cocktail shaker filled with ice.

I recommend investing in something like this stainless steel jigger, which makes measuring and pouring so much easier during Cocktail Hour.

Third, shake until very well mixed. The cocktail shaker will be almost too chilly to hold and covered in condensation.

Fourth, strain into a rocks or old fashioned glass filled with ice.

Fifth, garnish with a lemon twist and enjoy the best Gold Rush cocktail.

Optionally serve with gold nuggets. 😉

Two photos showing How to to make a Gold Rush Cocktail – adding lemon skewer garnish 

Best Bourbon for Gold Rush

The best bourbon for a Gold Rush is one that’s a bit aged, but not too aged. Since bourbon is made in oak casks, the time it spends in there affects its overall flavor.

Some like to use 6 to 10 years-aged bourbon whiskey, while others might find the flavor of oak too strong, and thus, overwhelming the honey and lemon juice.

Thus, the best bourbon whiskey for a Gold Rush is what you prefer—a heavy-oak tinted Gold Rush, or one that has a lighter oak hint, and is more budget-friendly.

Helpful Hint: use a 4-year aged bourbon whiskey for lighter oak, and 10-year for a heavy oak flavor. Try a 6/8-year aged bourbon for something in the middle.

super close up of hand placing lemon skewer onto rim of rocks glass

Gold Rush Cocktail Variations

Now that you’ve learned how to make this Gold Rush cocktail, it’s time to talk flavor variations! Here are a few of my favorites. 

Cranberry Gold Rush

The simplest way to make a cranberry Gold Rush is to use the power of muddling!

Simply add 1 ½ oz of honey syrup to your rocks glass. Then, muddle about 3 cranberries into the honey.

Add this cranberry honey syrup to your cocktail shaker filled with ice, and the rest of the Gold Rush ingredients: bourbon and lemon juice.

Shake until chilled and strain into the rocks glass. You can also roll a few cranberries in sugar and skewer them as a garnish.

Ginger Gold Rush

We’ll swap about half of the bourbon from the original Gold Rush recipe with ginger liqueur. Here’s the Ginger Gold Rush recipe:

  • 2 ½ oz ginger liqueur
  • 1 ½ oz bourbon
  • 1 ½ oz lemon juice
  • 1 ½ oz honey syrup

Bee’s Knees with Bourbon

This variation is what you’re making! A Bee’s Knees Cocktail is made with gin, lemon juice, and honey. So essentially, today’s Gold Rush drink is a Bee’s Knees with bourbon. 😉

this drinks recipe served on platter with a napkin and bartending accessories

More Recipes

Tools You Need

Thank You For Being Au-some.

A little gold pun for you there. 😉 Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing in these cocktail delights with me. Be sure to share this recipe with a friend—we surely do appreciate it. 🙂

Sending you all my love and maybe even a dove, xo Demeter ❤️

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Gold Rush Cocktail served in a crystal rocks glass with gold nuggets

The Gold Rush Cocktail


Sweet honey, bright lemon, and belly-warming bourbon combine in the Gold Rush Cocktail for a classic show-stopping drink that’s easy to make, elegant, and fun!



Tools Needed

Gold Rush Cocktail Ingredients

  • 4 oz bourbon
  • 1 ½ oz fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 to 1 ½ oz honey syrup


  • Lemon twist



  1. Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice: bourbon, lemon juice, and honey syrup. Shake until chilled and well mixed. Learn how to make honey syrup.
  2. Strain into a rocks or old fashioned glass(es) filled with ice.
  3. Garnish with a lemon twist.


  • Prep Time: 2 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Category: Drinks, Cocktails
  • Method: No Cook
  • Cuisine: AmericanAmerican

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  1. Anyone have any suggestions on a good bourbon to use, one that is more subtle for those that are not big bourbon drinkers? Thank yoU!