The Clever Tip To Upgrade A Gold Rush Bourbon Cocktail

The Gold Rush bourbon cocktail is known for its signature honeyed flavor. Honey syrup is one of Gold Rush's key ingredients, along with bourbon, naturally, and fresh lemon juice. A lemon twist is typically added as a garnish. That's the standard recipe, anyway — one that's garnered the drink instant classic status. But with Caleb Cherry's clever tip, the bourbon cocktail can be upgraded to the next level. 

The Gold Rush cocktail first appeared around 2000 in New York City's speakeasy-style cocktail bar, Milk & Honey, just in time for the bourbon boom. Since then, there's been a 360% rise in bourbon production, necessary to meet increased demand for the popular American spirit. Whether one inspired the other is impossible to know, but the bourbon boom has almost certainly contributed to the drink's popularity in the years since.

Caleb Cherry, Beverage Director at Kimpton's Montana-based The Armory Hotel, described the Gold Rush in Maxim as "pretty much an unbeatable bourbon cocktail. The fresh citrus and sour from fresh squeezed lemon, balanced out by the sweetness of a good high-proof bourbon and backed by the richness of honey." But as good as it is already, Cherry discovered a way to make it even better. His secret ingredient? Orange bitters. Before shaking, Cherry adds a couple of dashes of the herbal orange-flavored cocktail enhancer, as it adds another layer to the cocktail's already complex flavor palate.

Origins of the Gold Rush cocktail

Honey was added to the Gold Rush almost by accident. Milk & Honey patron T.J. Siegal was actually trying to order a whiskey sour. But the serendipitous presence of honey syrup at the bar inspired Siegal to request that ingredient in place of simple syrup. From this fateful decision, and the collaboration of the bar's founder, Sasha Petraske, and bartender Toby Maloney, a new cocktail was born. The Gold Rush recipe has since become standardized as two ounces of aged bourbon (ideally, not older than eight years), with equal measures of honey syrup and lemon juice (three-quarters of an ounce). These are added to a cocktail shaker, which is then vigorously shaken.

Cherry isn't the only mixologist to experiment with Gold Rush variations in recent years. Theo Lieberman, for example, famously pioneered the Regal Gold Rush, which adds a grapefruit twist to the cocktail shaker's ingredients, and is said to give the drink a distinctively delicious flavor. Cocktail aficionados are likely to find either variation satisfying, but Cherry's is particularly recommended, since it comes with another piece of Gold Rush related advice: Don't just shake vigorously before straining, "shake the daylights out of it."