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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.

recipe for gold rush cocktail

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 short 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. 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.
honey syrup gold rush cocktail shaken

How to Make a Gold Rush Cocktail

The Ingredients

  • 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. I love this citrus juicer, which gets the job done without missing a drop.
  • 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.

The Directions

making honey simple syrup at home
  1. 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!).
gold rush cocktail with bourbon in a cocktail shaker
  1. 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!
shaken gold rush cocktail being poured into a glass

Recipe Variations

  • 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.

Storage Tips

  • 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.

the best gold rush cocktail recipe ever

What to Serve with a Gold Rush Cocktail

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! Or if you make cocktails often, you might just decide that a cocktail shaker is a worthwhile investment!
  • 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 recipe with honey simple syrup made at home

Gold Rush Cocktail

5 from 9 votes
The gold rush cocktail is a simple drink with surprising richness and complexity. You only need a lemon, honey, and bourbon to make it!

Prep: 5 minutes
Total: 5 minutes

Servings: 1 serving


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.


Serving: 1 cocktailCalories: 169kcalCarbohydrates: 11gProtein: 0.1gFat: 0.1gSaturated Fat: 0.01gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.01gPotassium: 36mgFiber: 0.1gSugar: 9gVitamin A: 2IUVitamin C: 11mgCalcium: 2mgIron: 0.1mg

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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  1. This is yum. I put the honey in the microwave for 20 seconds. Not long enough to really heat it but long enough to make it very loose. Used Eagle Rare Bourbon and it was very smooth, a little sweet and lemony. Great for my mild sore throat and cold on a cold, Winter night5 stars

  2. I usually dislike bourbon (and all brown liquors) but this was the exception. The recipe is so simple, but the flavors are surprisingly complex and refreshing. I am going to make this as our “house” cocktail for this New Year’s Eve!5 stars