Cocktail & Other Recipes By Spirit Bourbon Cocktails

Gold Rusher

An unadorned rocks glass rests on an embossed silver platter. The drink within is dark gold and lightly foamy, with a mint sprig for garnish.
Image: / Tim Nusog

Drinking is inexorably linked to football parties, from tailgate gatherings to Super Bowl get-togethers. Normally it’s all about the kegs rather than cocktails, with the Bloody Mary for daytime games being the only mixed drink with a close association to football. However, plenty of bartenders are also fans of the contact sport, and some from NFL hometowns have crafted drinks in homage to their respective teams.

Once such bartender is Helen Diaz of San Francisco, the home of the 49ers. Though the team is technically based about 45 miles away in Santa Clara, at Levi’s Stadium, it’s still closely associated with the city it grew up in. There’s also a close association between the team name and a classic cocktail, the Gold Rush, essentially a Whiskey Sour with honey syrup rather than simple syrup. “The original 49ers were gold seekers that came through California in 1849 during the Gold Rush,” says Diaz. “When I think about the 49ers, I think Gold Rush, and then I think of the Gold Rush cocktail. This is the Gold Rusher.”

However, rather than a straightforward Gold Rush, Diaz adapts it as an homage to San Francisco by adding a key ingredient that is as much a part of Bay Area culture as the sports team is: Fernet-Branca. “What better way to represent this team but to add a little Fernet to the drink?” she says, calling on the fact that San Francisco consumes more Fernet than any other place in the country. Beyond being the city’s favorite amaro, Fernet-Branca adds a botanical depth and richness to the cocktail, as well as a more burnished gold hue.


  • 1 1/2 ounces bourbon
  • 1/2 ounce Fernet-Branca
  • 3/4 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1/2 ounce ginger solution*
  • 1/2 ounce honey syrup**
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • Garnish: mint sprig


  1. Add the bourbon, Fernet-Branca, lemon juice, ginger solution, honey syrup and Angostura bitters to a shaker filled with ice and shake until well-chilled.

  2. Double-strain over a large hand-cut chunk of ice into a rocks glass.

  3. Garnish with a mint sprig.

*Ginger solution: Heat 1 part water in a small pot over medium heat. Add 1 part sugar and 1 part ginger juice, and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool before using.

**Honey syrup: Heat 3 parts honey to 1 part water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until honey has dissolved. Allow to cool and transfer to an airtight container. Syrup will keep, refrigerated, for up to 1 month.