The Gold Rush, a combination of two classics

Brian Rung

    In 2002 famed New York Bartender T.J. Siegal managed to do what very few mixologists have been able to do - create a modern classic cocktail.
    It seems that over the last century nearly every possible combination of spirit, sugar, bitters, etc. has been made into something with a catchy name.
    Sometimes with a little imagination you strike gold, and that's exactly what happened with this week's cocktail, the modern classic Gold Rush.
    The Gold Rush is a refreshing take on a combination of two classic cocktails, the Whiskey Sour and the Bee's Knees. Like the classic Bee's Knees, the Gold Rush uses honey syrup as a sweetener as opposed to a simple syrup or flavored liqueur.
    Honey has always had a place in classic cocktail recipe books, but recently has taken on a greater role, particularly in the new wave of whiskey cocktails.
    The Scotch-based Penicillin is another modern classic that uses honey syrup as a sweetener. The Gold Rush can be adapted to any type of whiskey, but it works best with bourbon. The combination of honey and bourbon is a match made in cocktail heaven.  
    The Gold Rush is also highly versatile in that you can use higher proof bourbons in the drink to offset the super strong flavor notes of lemon and honey.
    Your favorite 80 proof bourbon will work in a Gold Rush, but if you are looking for a good higher proof whiskey Maker's Mark Cask Strength, Wild Turkey 101 and Old Forester 100 are all great in that department.
    Don't be intimidated by using honey in your home bar as it is an absolute joy to work with in cocktails. It pairs well with most base spirits and brings a complex sweetness to your cocktail that is unmatched by sugar alone.  
    There are several types of honey to choose from, but clover honey seems to be the variety that can be found behind most bars. Clover honey is one of the softer honeys, mild in both color and flavor.
    If clover honey is unavailable, alfalfa and orange blossom honey will also work in cocktails. If you have a favorite honey, or better yet if you farm your own honey, use it.  The fresher, the better.
    There is a do-it-yourself element to The Gold Rush. When using honey in cocktails you will need to make honey syrup as pure honey will not mix well in a cold drink.
    Honey mixes well only when it melts or dissolves into a drink such as a cup of hot tea. It is well worth the effort to make a batch of honey syrup and the end result will keep in the refrigerator for about five days if you happen to make more than you need.
    If you can make simple syrup, you can make honey syrup. It's that simple. A good starting point for honey syrup is equal parts honey and water. For starters, maybe use 1/4 cup of each.
    Combine the honey in water in a saucepan and heat until the honey melts into the water, stirring occasionally. If you use the 1:1 ratio of honey to water, the honey should not separate from the water when refrigerated, but it may be a good idea to shake your honey syrup if you are using refrigerated syrup.
    If your palate prefers a bit more sweetness, you can increase the honey component to a ratio of 2:1, or possibly even 3:1. Anything beyond 3:1 and you're getting into a situation where the syrup may not mix well.
    The Gold Rush deserves every single accolade that it has received since T.J. Siegal first served the drink at the iconic Milk and Honey in New York over a decade ago.
    The Gold Rush has become a modern staple and is served nationwide in most establishments that support a decent cocktail menu. Don't take my word for it, grab your favorite bottle of bourbon and give this one a try. You won't be disappointed.
    The Gold Rush is built in a shaker, served in a rocks glass.
    Fill shaker with ice
    Add 2 ounces bourbon
    Add 2 ounce honey syrup
    Add 3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
    Shake and strain into rocks glass over fresh ice. A large single ice cube is best.
    Until next week, enjoy responsibly.