The Gold Rush Cocktail is a simple, three-ingredient drink with a surprising amount of complexity. Bourbon, honey, and lemon create a bright flavor and silky quality that makes this bourbon cocktail a standout.
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Why You’ll Love This Gold Rush Bourbon Cocktail Recipe
- A Play on Two Favorites. Do you love a whiskey sour? The gold rush cocktail is basically a whiskey sour with honey instead of sugar. Maybe a bee’s knees cocktail is your go-to? Well, the gold rush is a bee’s knees with bourbon instead of gin!
- Simple But Transcendent. You might look at the ingredient list below and wonder what the fuss is about. But once you try a gold rush cocktail, you’ll get it. Lemon, honey, and bourbon make a stellar and surprisingly complex combination.
- Three Ingredients. Yes, there are four ingredients on the list below, but you’ll use a single lemon for the peel and the juice, so it’s really three. When you want to enjoy a cocktail after dinner, sometimes you don’t want to have to haul out a dozen different bottles and accouterments—and let’s be real, who even has all that stuff?! Like a Skinny Margarita, the gold rush is an excellent cocktail if you don’t have a fully stocked bar at home.
- A Year-Round Kind of Cocktail. Some cocktails have a season, like an Apple Cider Cocktail, Mulled Wine, and Strawberry Mojitos. Then there are those cocktails that have universal, year-round appeal, like the gold rush. The lemon makes it refreshing in the summer, while the bourbon and honey give it some warmth that makes it fabulous in the fall and winter.
How to Make a Gold Rush Cocktail
- Honey Simple Syrup. You’ll just need honey and water for this. I keep it easy and make the simple syrup in the microwave.
- Lemon Juice. Freshly squeezed, please! Bottled lemon juice has a duller flavor than fresh.
- Bourbon. Such as Four Roses, Maker’s Mark, Basil Hayden or Bulleit.
- Lemon Peel. You’ll use this for garnish. Be sure to remove the peel before juicing the lemon.
- Make the Honey Simple Syrup. Heat equal parts honey and water until the honey dissolves when you stir (you can do this in the microwave!).
- Shake It. Fill your cocktail shaker with ice, then add the the ingredients, shake for 30 seconds, then strain into a glass. Garnish and ENJOY!
- Ginger Gold Rush. Add ginger liqueur like Domaine de Canton for a little more warmth and make a ginger gold rush cocktail. Swap it out for half of the honey simple syrup.
- Gold Rush With Orange Bitters. Some bartenders add a few dashes of orange bitters to the gold rush cocktail before shaking it.
- To Store. As with most cocktails, a gold rush is best enjoyed right away. If you need to refrigerate it, pour it into a bottle or container with a lid and enjoy within a day.
Meal Prep Tip
To get a head start for a party, you can make the honey simple syrup up to a month in advance, and peel and juice the lemons the day before.
What to Serve with a Gold Rush Cocktail
- Crostini. You’re hosting a party with gold rush cocktails and apps. What do you serve? Let’s start with Whipped Feta Crostini or Pumpkin Goat Cheese Crostini.
- Dips and Spreads. What’s a cocktail party without some good dips and spreads? Honey Ricotta Dip with Pistachio and Apricot, Brie En Croute, or a Pineapple Cheese Ball would be excellent.
- Finger Food. Don’t forget some finger foods like Brie Bites and Spinach Puffs!
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Cocktail Shaker. If you make cocktails often, it’s a worthwhile investment!
- Jigger. Makes it easy to measure your cocktail ingredients.
- Citrus Juicer. Great for cocktails and so much more. This is a tool you’ll use at least once a week, if not more!
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- Don’t Skip Making the Syrup. You may ask yourself, “What’s the point of making the honey syrup? Can’t I just put the honey directly into the cocktail shaker?” You can, of course, do whatever you want. You are the master of your own destiny! But I will warn you that the honey will stick to the shaker, no matter how vigorously you shake it. A honey syrup will be more evenly distributed.
- No Cocktail Shaker? No Problem! Do you have one of those shaker bottles for protein powder? Use that! A water bottle? That works too! A mason jar? Boom!
- Make a Big Batch of Honey Syrup. It will last in the refrigerator for a month, so if you love gold rush cocktails, keep a batch of syrup on hand.
Gold Rush Cocktail
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For 1 Drink:
- 1/2 ounce honey simple syrup 1 tablespoon; see step 1
- 1 ounce lemon juice 2 tablespoons, about 1/2 medium lemon
- 2 ounces bourbon 1/4 cup, such as Four Roses, Maker’s Mark, Basil Hayden or Bulleit
- Lemon peel for garnish
- Make the honey simple syrup: In a microwave safe measuring cup with a spout, combine equal parts honey and water; the more drinks you’re making, the more you need. When I’m just making 1 or 2 drinks, I typically do 1 to 2 tablespoons of each. Microwave for 20 seconds. Stir to combine. Heat just until the honey dissolves easily into the water (you can also do this in a pan on the stove top).
- To make your cocktail, fill a cocktail shaker with ice (most shakers can hold about 3 drinks total). Add the honey simple syrup, lemon juice (TIP: remove the lemon peel garnish prior to juicing), and bourbon. Shake for 30 seconds, then strain into a coupe glass.
- Twist the lemon peel directly over the glass (this releases oils) then run it around the inside rim. Drop into the glass. Enjoy immediately.
- TO MAKE A PITCHER (5 Drinks): In a pitcher, combine 2.5 ounces of honey simple syrup, 5 ounces of lemon juice, and 10 ounces of bourbon. Refrigerate for up to 4 hours. Just before serving, stir the pitcher, then shake the cocktail over ice measuring 3 1/2 ounces per drink. Garnish with the lemon peel as described in the recipe.
- TO STORE: As with most cocktails, a gold rush is best enjoyed right away. If you need to refrigerate it, pour it into a bottle or container with a lid and enjoy within a day or two.
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