Honey Lemon Whiskey Sour (Gold Rush Cocktail)

Enjoy a honey lemon whiskey sour for happy hour! This recipe modifies the classic whiskey sour by replacing the lime juice with lemon and the sugar with local honey.

A honey lemon whiskey sour cocktail sits in a glass decorated with gold starburst print and garnished with a decorative lemon peel

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I realize I probably sound like the poster child for whiskey because so many of the cocktails I have shared lately have been whiskey-based.

What can I say? It’s January. It’s really cold out, and I want it to be spring already. I’m dreaming of warmer days, and there’s nothing like a little whiskey cocktail to make you dream more.

Let’s talk about this honey lemon whiskey sour. It also goes by another name: the Gold Rush cocktail.

The Gold Rush Cocktail — a Honey Lemon Whiskey Sour

Honey and lemon are two of my favorite flavors. They compliment each other so well, whether it’s in a cup of tea or in a cocktail.

Honey is one of my favorite additions to a cocktail. (See also: this honey mint julep. And this honey peach old-fashioned.)

The classic whiskey sour uses whiskey, lemon juice and simple syrup (and sometimes an egg white), so honey makes a great substitute that really brightens the lemon and balances out the strong bourbon.

An overhead shot shows a wooden honey dripper, a cocktail garnished with lemon peel, a lemon wheel, a gold spoon and a gold cocktail jigger on a teal dishtowel

What is a whiskey sour?

A whiskey sour is a refreshing and balanced cocktail that’s made with whiskey, lemon juice, sugar and egg white. Sometimes it is served with a cocktail cherry on top.

When the ingredients are shaken in a cocktail shaker filled with ice, the act of shaking against the ice helps the egg white to get a frothy texture. When strained into a glass, the egg white foam floats to the top of the drink.

Whiskey sours are easy drinks to make, especially if you have any leftover lemon from other drinks or recipes you make.

I love drinks with whole eggs or egg whites in them, and I love whiskey and lemon — so this Honey Lemon Whiskey Sour recipe checks all my boxes for a great drink.

But if egg white isn’t your thing, you can serve this drink on the rocks without it.

A honey dripper sits in a puddle of honey with a cocktail and lemon in the background

Ingredients

Honey

I almost always have honey on hand, whereas simple syrup is something I usually need to whip up. In those cases, I will often make honey simple syrup, which makes viscous honey much easier to mix into cold liquids.

You can even use this homemade honey whiskey to keep on hand for all your Gold Rush cocktail needs. It’s so much better than store-bought honey whiskey!

Lemon juice

Fresh lemon is key in this recipe. Lemon has a reputation of being sour (obviously) but the bottled concentrate has a more tart and sometimes artificial flavor than fresh lemon juice.

However, if you have to use the bottled stuff, you absolutely can.

Tip: Room temperature citrus is easier to juice than cold, refrigerated fruit. Set your citrus fruits out on the counter for a couple hours to warm up before juicing them.

Whiskey

Whiskey is the key ingredient in a whiskey sour. Don’t skimp on the good stuff here — always use the best bourbon you can afford.

Bourbon is the most common type of whiskey to use, but you can also use other types like rye whiskey, Irish whiskey or even Scotch.

Egg white

Shaken egg white is what creates the foamy, white layer on top of the cocktail, and provides a silky and smooth texture to the drink. When adding egg white to a Whiskey Sour, it is usually called a Boston Sour.

My grandmother once told me she went on a cruise during which she fell in love with whiskey sours, but she was notoriously an egg hater! I’m certain that the whiskey sours she enjoyed were not Boston Sours.

If you’d rather skip the egg white, you can stop right here. However, I encourage you to give it a try. When using raw eggs in a drink, there are some safety measures to keep in mind.

Raw egg warning

Consuming raw or lightly-cooked eggs poses a risk for food-borne illness.

A glass with gold starbursts garnished with a lemon peel sits beside a honey dripper covered in honey. Half a lemon and a teal dishtowel sit in the background

Are egg whites in drinks safe?

Eggs add a host of excellent qualities to a cocktail. They can add thickness and silkiness, like eggnog. It can add an “eggy” taste, but it’s honestly very subtle.

Of course, there is always a concern that using raw egg or egg whites in a cocktail would be unsafe. Follow these tips for using egg whites in a cocktail safely.

Always purchase pasteurized eggs in the shell — that is the recommendation for any food or drink that includes raw eggs, according to the USDA.

Also, make sure you keep your eggs refrigerated and don’t use any that are already cracked.

How to separate the egg white

I like to use an egg separator tool for removing the yolk. Just rest it over the edge of your cocktail shaker and crack the egg into it, then toss the yolk.

(Or refrigerate it in a covered container for tomorrow’s breakfast!)

A version of a whiskey sour garnished with a lemon peel sits with a honey dripper, half a lemon and a sea foam colored dish towel

How to make this cocktail your own

Typically, whiskey sours are made with whiskey, lemon, sugar (not honey) and an optional egg white — all ingredients that go well together.

You can substitute other base spirits to end up with other drinks, such as rum, tequila, gin and vodka, but some of those combinations are better known by other names:

  • A rum sour with lime, for example, is a daiquiri.
  • A tequila sour with lime and a little orange liqueur is a margarita.
  • A gin sour with honey is a Prohibition-era cocktail called a Bee’s Knees.

And if you’re not a lemon fan, you can sub in other citrus juices too! Grapefruit is always a winner if you like a tart cocktail, or you can add blood orange to a cocktail for a sweet (and colorful) drink.

So, feel free to explore and modify this recipe. Let me know what you end up with! You really can’t go wrong, in my opinion. After all, it’s a whiskey sour.

More whiskey sour recipes

Sweet and colorful, this blood orange whiskey sour is a favorite!

And if you’d rather have something with more of a fruit flavor, I also have a recipe for a blackberry peach whiskey sour.

Cinnamon is also a lovely addition in this aero whiskey sour.

A honey lemon whiskey sour cocktail sits with several of its ingredients with a cocktail jigger on a teal dish towel in background

Honey Lemon Whiskey Sour

Yield: 1 cocktail
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Enjoy a honey lemon whiskey sour for happy hour! This recipe modifies the classic whiskey sour by replacing the lime juice with lemon and the sugar with local honey.
4.56 from 9 votes
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ingredients

  • 2 ounces bourbon whiskey
  • 1 ounce lemon juice preferably freshly squeezed
  • 1 ounce honey syrup
  • 1 egg white optional
  • ice

instructions

  • Add whiskey, lemon juice, honey and egg white to cocktail shaker filled with ice.
  • Place lid on cocktail shaker and shake hard, about 1-2 minutes.
  • Strain liquid (no ice!) into a rocks glass to serve up, or with ice to serve on the rocks.

notes

If may have a hard time dissolving straight honey, so you can make a honey syrup by diluting it hot water. Combine ½ ounce honey with ½ ounce hot water. 
You can omit the egg white, too, but I think it makes for a lovely, frothy addition to this classic. I prefer my whiskey sours served up/neat, but you can also enjoy them on the rocks.

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As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

nutrition information

Yield: 1 cocktail

amount per serving:

Serving: 4ounces Calories: 174kcal Carbohydrates: 8g Protein: 3g Fat: 0.1g Saturated Fat: 0.01g Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.01g Sodium: 51mg Potassium: 83mg Fiber: 0.1g Sugar: 7g Vitamin A: 2IU Vitamin C: 11mg Calcium: 4mg Iron: 0.1mg
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