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Gold Rush Cocktail served with ice and a lemon twist

I always thought bourbon was more of a wintery liquor and had previously leaned towards vodka or gin for summer mixed drinks, but this great summer bourbon cocktail recipe proves this thought wrong! The Gold Rush is made with bourbon, honey simple syrup, and lemon juice.

The Gold Rush is a simple and delicious cocktail with a classic cocktail vibe. Although it has that pre-prohibition era feel, this cocktail’s creation is actually credited to New York City’s Milk & Honey bar in the mid-2000s. The Gold Rush is a modern take on a classic whiskey sour, replacing the standard sugar simple syrup with honey simple syrup. Doing this also happens to create a refined sugar free cocktail, which is great for those trying to avoid refined sugars in their diet.


Level of difficulty: This is an easy cocktail to make. You do have the added step of making homemade honey simple syrup for this cocktail recipe, but that is an easy process as well.

Flavor: The lemon and honey compliment the boozy bourbon in this drink, creating a light, crisp, and refreshing cocktail.

Time: From start-to-finish, it will take you approximately 5 minutes to mix up your Gold Rush cocktail (this does not include the time to make the simple syrup).

Top down view of a homemade Gold Rush Cocktail served on ice with a lemon twist


Bourbon: using a high quality bourbon is recommended for this cocktail recipe. As there are minimal ingredients, you want to select a bourbon you like as the flavor will shine through. My top recommendations would be: anything from J.Henry & Sons, Makers Mark Cask Strength, and Basil Hayden’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. If you have a local distillery near you that makes bourbon, give them a try too!

Honey Simple Syrup: the recipe for homemade honey simple syrup is located here - make sure to make your simple syrup ahead of your cocktail mixing! As simple syrups can stay in your refrigerator for a couple of weeks, I like to keep a bottle at the ready for when the mood strikes.

Lemon: Fresh lemon is ideal for this cocktail, so make sure to have a lemon on hand. You can garnish your drink with a lemon wedge or lemon twist for a little extra pizazz too.


  1. Place lemon juice, honey simple syrup, and bourbon in a cocktail shaker (or mason jar!) with ice and shake vigorously to combine and cool.

  2. Strain the drink into a low ball or old fashioned glass.

  3. Option to garnish with a lemon wedge or lemon twist.

  4. Sip and enjoy!

View of two Gold Rush Cocktails with wedges of lemon and a vibrant background


What is the best bourbon to use for this cocktail recipe? Since there are minimal ingredients in this cocktail, using a high-quality bourbon is important when making the Gold Rush cocktail. I outlined my three favorite varieties above, but honestly, the best bourbon for this summer bourbon drink recipe is a bourbon that you enjoy!

I don’t have bourbon. Can I substitute something else? In a pinch, most whiskeys will serve as a good substitute. The name ‘bourbon’ is short for ‘Bourbon whiskey’, and there are other types of whisky too: Irish whiskey, Scotch whiskey (aka ‘Scotch’), rye whiskey, Japanese whiskey, etc. Any whiskey will likely be good in your Gold Rush, however, I would recommend avoiding smoked whiskeys (like Islay-variety Scotch) as the smoke flavor would likely overpower the honey and lemon.

What else can I make with honey simple syrup? Honey simple syrup is a delicious and versatile sweetener to have in your fridge! Great in cocktails, coffees (both warm and iced), and teas (both warm and iced).

Is there a special tool you use to make a lemon twist? Yes, I use a simple tool called a channel knife to make my citrus twists. It is an inexpensive and small piece of equipment that can really help you to up your garnish game!

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