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Gold Rush Cocktail Recipe

The Gold Rush glitters bright in the cocktail galaxy. Follow our easy recipe and craft the tasty bourbon cocktail at home in just five minutes.

Gold Rush Cocktail with Honey Dipper

You might think that the Gold Rush cocktail dates back to the mid 19th century when adventurers headed west in search of golden nuggets. You might also think that it was invented in California where those fortune seekers met their destinies. As it turns out, neither is actually the case.

Instead, this modern-day NYC cocktail is a tasty tipple whose treasures are available to all game to give it a try.

What Is A Gold Rush Cocktail?

Gold Rush Cocktail from Above with Red Background
We gave this Gold Rush cocktail a gold star for its simple yet sophisticated flavor profile.

The Gold Rush cocktail will sound eerily familiar to cocktail connoisseurs who have previously imbibed Whiskey Sour and Bee’s Knees cocktails. With ingredients similar to both, it’s a modern day mashup of those two pre-prohibition cocktails.

But, crafted with bourbon, fresh lemon juice and honey syrup, the Gold Rush, a simultaneously sweet and sour cocktail, stands on its own merits.

Discover more sour cocktails to craft at home.

History Of The Gold Rush Cocktail

Gold Rush Cocktail with Black Background
The history of the Gold Rush cocktail is no mystery.

Unlike California’s Gold Rush, which was epic in both size and scope, the history of the Gold Rush drink is short, sweet and can’t be traced to America’s Golden State.

Cocktail historians credit T.J. Siegel for crafting the original Gold Rush cocktail at now-closed Milk & Honey in New York City. And, despite the golden cocktail’s classic list of ingredients, it was first concocted in 2001.

Purchase a copy of Sasha Petraske’s Regarding Cocktails to discover more cocktails crafted at Milk & Honey.

Gold Rush Ingredients

Gold Rush Cocktail Ingredients and Tools
The only ingredients required to craft a Gold Rush cocktail are bourbon, a lemon, honey syrup and ice (not pictured).

Some cocktails require a special trip to the liquor store and/or market. The Gold Rush is not one of those cocktails. In fact, you probably already have the following necessary ingredients:

  • Bourbon
  • Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • Honey Syrup
  • Large Ice Cube
  • Lemon Twist (Garnish)
  • Ice Cubes (for Shaking)
Gold Rush Cocktail with Bourbon Bottle
Bourbon is the elixir that makes the Gold Rush cocktail shine.

We use Four Roses bourbon to craft our Gold Rush cocktails. It’s a great bourbon for cocktails since its flavors are relatively mild with hints of both vanilla and caramel. It’s also one of the more affordable bourbons produced in Kentucky and has a 40% ABV – the lowest possible ABV for Kentucky bourbon.

Discover our favorite bourbon cocktails.

How To Craft A Gold Rush

Gold Rush Cocktail Mise en Place
Crafting a Gold Rush cocktail is easy once you assemble the necessary ingredients and tools.

We use the following tools in our Gold Rush recipe:

You can improvise if you’re missing any of these tools. For example, you can use a small angled measuring cup instead of a jigger or a paring knife instead of a peeler.

Discover 10 essential bar tools for home mixologists.

Gold Rush Cocktail with White Background
Once you gather your bar tools and ingredients, you’re mere minutes away from crafting a Gold Rush cocktail.

The first step is to measure the bourbon, freshly squeezed lemon juice and honey syrup. We use a Japanese jigger to get accurate measurements and easy pours for all three of these liquids.

Purchase a Japanese Jigger if you don’t have a jigger or want an inexpensive upgrade.

Measuring Honey Syrup for a Gold Rush Cocktail
Measuring the ingredients is the first step in our Gold Rush cocktail recipe.

We like to prepare honey syrup in advance so that it has time to cool. However, we squeeze the lemon juice on the spot for maximum freshness.

Pro Tip
Prepare honey syrup in advance the same way you would prepare simple syrup – with a 1:1 ratio of honey and water stirred over a medium fire until the mixture simmers and the honey and water are well mixed. It’s an easy process that only takes five minutes in a small saucepan.

Algarvian Honey
Preparing honey syrup is easy to do. The only required ingredients are honey and water.

Pour the bourbon, lemon juice and honey syrup directly into a shaker as you measure each.

We use a Boston Shaker to craft this and other cocktails and we love it. It’s so easy to use and doesn’t make a mess. Our previous shakers often leaked and the lid would stick to the base between uses.

Add a handful of ice cubes to the shaker and shake vigorously for 30 second or until the liquids are chilled and blended.

Purchase a Boston Shaker if you don’t have a shaker or want an inexpensive upgrade.

Gold Rush Cocktail with Ice in Shaker
Once you add ice, it’s time to shake things up.

Drop a large ice cube into a lowball or rocks glass. Immediately strain the shaken cocktail into the glass.

Buy a jumbo ice cube tray from Amazon if you don’t already have one. Jumbo ice cubes are magical in homemade drinks!

Straining a Gold Rush Cocktail
You’re almost done once you strain the Gold Rush into a glass.

The final step is to garnish the crafted Gold Rush with a lemon twist.

Crafted Gold Rush Cocktail
A lemon twist adds the Gold Rush cocktail’s finishing touch.

Pro Tip
Peel the lemon twist before you squeeze out the lemon juice.

Gold Rush Variations

Gold Rush Cocktail from Above with Black Background
Will you strike gold with the Gold Rush cocktail? While we can’t guarantee it, we certainly hope that you do.

With is combination of bourbon, lemon juice and honey syrup, the Gold Rush just might satisfy your cocktail sweet spot. If not, one of the following variations will likely get you buzzing:

  • Add oatmeal stout to craft a Black Bee cocktail.
  • Add hot water and a cinnamon stick to craft a Hot Toddy cocktail.
  • Replace the bourbon with gin to craft a Bee’s Knees cocktail.
  • Replace the orange juice with grapefruit juice to craft a Brown Derby cocktail.
  • Replace the honey syrup with simple syrup to craft a Whiskey Sour cocktail.
  • Replace the bourbon with rum to craft a Honey Bee cocktail.

Gold Rush FAQs

Where was the Gold Rush invented?

The Gold Rush was invented at the now-closed Milk & Honey bar in New York City.

What are the ingredients in a Gold Rush?

Bourbon, Honey Syrup, Ice (for shaking), Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice, Lemon Twist (garnish) and a Large Ice Cube

What’s the best whiskey to use in a Gold Rush?

You should use your favorite bourbon in this cocktail recipe. We typically use Four Roses but any bourbon will work just fine.

Is the Gold Rush shaken or stirred?

The Gold Rush is shaken, not stirred.

What type of glass is best for the Gold Rush?

We like to serve this cocktail in a lowball glass and you should do the same.

Gold Rush Recipe

Gold Rush Cocktail with White Background

Gold Rush Cocktail

Yield: 1
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

Learn how to craft a tasty Gold Rush cocktail at home in just five minutes.


  • 2 ounces bourbon
  • 3/4 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 3/4 ounce honey syrup
  • lemon peel
  • ice cube


  1. Combine bourbon, lemon juice and honey syrup in a shaker.
  2. Add ice and shake vigorously for 30 seconds or until the ingredients are chilled and blended.
  3. Strain into a lowball or rocks glass filled with several small ice cubes or one large ice cube.
  4. Add a lemon twist as garnish.

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About The Authors

About The Authors

Daryl & Mindi Hirsch

Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on their website 2foodtrippers. Since launching the site in 2012, they’ve traveled to over 40 countries in their quest to bring readers a unique taste of the world.


Article Updates
We update our articles regularly. Some updates are major while others are minor link changes and spelling corrections. Let us know if you see anything that needs to be updated in this article.

We purchased the ingredients and tools used to craft this cocktail.

Original Publication Date: July 7, 2022

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