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Rye Whiskey Cocktails

Spice Up Your Cocktail Game with Rye Whiskey: Our Favorite Rye Cocktail Recipes

Written by Emma C | Updated May 2023

Rye whiskey is a unique spirit that's known for its spicy and earthy flavor profile. It's a great spirit to use in cocktails because it adds complexity and depth to any drink. If you're looking to spice up your cocktail game, this blog is for you. We'll explore some of our favorite rye cocktail recipes and recommend bottles available in our bottle shop for you to try.

Manhattan

The Manhattan is a classic cocktail that's made with rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters. It's a simple yet sophisticated drink that's perfect for sipping on a chilly evening. We recommend using a high-quality rye whiskey like WhistlePig or Rittenhouse for this cocktail.

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz rye whiskey
  • 1 oz sweet vermouth
  • 2 dashes bitters
  • Maraschino cherry for garnish

Instructions:

  • Fill a mixing glass with ice.
  • Add rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters.
  • Stir for 30 seconds.
  • Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
  • Garnish with a cherry.
Taster's Club Recommendation For Manhattan  Available In Our Bottle Shop
WhistlePig Piggyback Rye

WhistlePig Whiskey kicked off its rye whiskey journey with the Quintessential Rye – the brand’s small batch rye, aged 10 Years – the one that started it all. True to its original Master Distillers’ vision, this is a high rye whiskey with a bold, spice-forward flavor that offers new layers with every year of age. And at 100 proof, it’s versatile no matter how you drink it.

Region: Vermont | Tasting Notes: Fruit, Wood, Mint, Pine, Lemon | ABV: 50%

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Old Fashioned

The Old Fashioned is a classic cocktail that's made with rye whiskey, sugar, bitters, and a citrus peel. It's a simple yet delicious drink that's perfect for any occasion. We recommend using a high-quality rye whiskey like Pikesville or Bulleit for this cocktail.

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz rye whiskey
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 dashes bitters
  • Orange or lemon peel for garnish

Instructions:

  • In a rocks glass, muddle the sugar and bitters.
  • Add ice to the glass.
  • Add rye whiskey.
  • Stir for 30 seconds.
  • Garnish with a citrus peel.
Taster's Club Recommendation For Old Fashioned  Available In Our Bottle Shop
 Elijah Craig Rye

The first extra-aged Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey to join Elijah Craig’s award-winning family of Bourbons. A unique combination of spicy rye grains and sweet corn, coupled with steadfast attention to detail, gives Elijah Craig Straight Rye the perfect balance of flavor and smoothness.

Region: Kentucky | Tasting Notes: Spice, Honey, Oak | ABV: 47%

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Sazerac

The Sazerac is a classic New Orleans cocktail that's made with rye whiskey, absinthe, bitters, and a sugar cube. It's a complex and flavorful drink that's perfect for any occasion. We recommend using a high-quality rye whiskey like Sazerac for this cocktail.

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz rye whiskey
  • 1 tsp absinthe
  • 1 sugar cube
  • 2 dashes bitters
  • Lemon peel for garnish

Instructions:

  • In a mixing glass, muddle the sugar cube and bitters.
  • Add rye whiskey and ice to the glass.
  • Rinse a chilled rocks glass with absinthe.
  • Strain the cocktail into the absinthe-rinsed glass.
  • Garnish with a lemon peel.
Taster's Club Recommendation For Sazerac Available In Our Bottle Shop
Sazerac Rye

The Sazerac was born in the French Quarter at a time when saloons, veiled as coffee houses, lined the streets of New Orleans. At the famed Sazerac Coffee House, the drink of choice became a libation of rye whiskey, absinthe, and bitters and with that, the first branded cocktail, the Sazerac, was born. This Sazerac Rye carries the unrestrained taste and character of New Orleans.

Region: Kentucky | Tasting Notes: Vanilla, Clove, Anise, Pepper | ABV: 47%

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Brooklyn Cocktail

The Brooklyn cocktail is a classic cocktail that has been around for over a century. This cocktail is a perfect blend of sweet and bitter, and it is a favorite of many cocktail lovers. It is a perfect drink for those who love whiskey but want something a little different from the usual whiskey cocktail. 

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz Rye Whiskey
  • 1 oz Sweet Vermouth
  • 1/4 oz Maraschino Liqueur
  • 1/4 oz Amer Picon or Amaro Nonino
  • Orange peel for garnish

Instructions:

  • Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass filled with ice.
  • Stir until chilled.
  • Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
  • Garnish with an orange peel.
Taster's Club Recommendation For Brooklyn Cocktail Available In Our Bottle Shop
Rittenhouse Rye Whiskey

Rittenhouse Straight Rye Whisky has a storied past with a heritage that commemorates Philadelphia's famous Rittenhouse Square. Bottled-in-Bond, today's Rittenhouse carries the distinct, spicy flavor that is long associated with the brand. Rittenhouse is the Rye Whisky of choice for both mixologists and whisky aficionados alike.

Region: Kentucky | Tasting Notes: Fruit, Chocolate, Bark, Nutmeg, Oak | ABV: 50%

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Scofflaw

The Scofflaw is a classic cocktail that dates back to the Prohibition era in the United States. It is a delicious and balanced drink that combines the sweetness of vermouth with the tartness of lemon juice and the spiciness of rye whiskey. If you're looking for a new cocktail to try, the Scofflaw is definitely worth a taste.

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz rye whiskey
  • 1 oz dry vermouth
  • 3/4 oz lemon juice
  • 3/4 oz grenadine
  • Orange peel for garnish

Instructions:

  • Combine all ingredients in a shaker filled with ice.
  • Shake well until chilled.
  • Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
  • Garnish with an orange peel.
Taster's Club Recommendation For Scofflaw Available In Our Bottle Shop
Redemption Rye

Your first sip of this signature whiskey is more than just a sip. It’s a discovery of rye’s beautifully complex flavors. With a rye content of 95%, well past the 51% required for the category, Redemption has recreated the classic American whiskey that ruled our glasses before Prohibition.

Region: Indiana | Tasting Notes: Pecan, Apple, Pie, Leather, Oak | ABV: 46%

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Vieux Carré

The Vieux Carré is a classic New Orleans cocktail that has been around since the early 1900s. It is a complex and flavorful drink that combines whiskey, cognac, and vermouth with a touch of sweetness from Benedictine and a hint of bitters. If you're looking for a sophisticated cocktail to impress your guests, the Vieux Carré is an excellent choice.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 oz rye whiskey
  • 3/4 oz cognac
  • 3/4 oz sweet vermouth
  • 1 tsp Benedictine
  • 2 dashes Peychaud's bitters
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Lemon peel for garnish

Instructions:

  • Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass filled with ice.
  • Stir until chilled.
  • Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
  • Garnish with a lemon peel.
Taster's Club Recommendation For Vieux Carré Available In Our Bottle Shop
Woodford Reserve Rye

Woodford Reserve Rye uses a pre-prohibition style ratio of 53% rye in its mash bill to pay homage to history’s original rye whiskeys, making spice and tobacco the dominant note among a sea of fruit, floral, and sweet aromatics, which yields a nice sweetness and overall balance. This rye whiskey delivers complex flavors – neat, on ice, or in a cocktail. A balanced rye makes a more balanced cocktail.

Region: Kentucky | Tasting Notes: Spice, Pepper, Cedar, Bark, Marzipan, Fruit, Nut | ABV: 45.2%

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Toronto Cocktail

The Toronto cocktail is a classic cocktail that originated in the city of Toronto, Canada. It is a delicious and sophisticated drink that combines the spiciness of rye whiskey with the sweetness of maple syrup and the bitterness of Fernet. If you're looking for a new cocktail to try, the Toronto cocktail is definitely worth a taste.

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz rye whiskey
  • 1/4 oz Fernet
  • 1/4 oz maple syrup
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Orange twist for garnish

Instructions:

  • Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass filled with ice.
  • Stir until chilled.
  • Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
  • Garnish with an orange twist.
Taster's Club Recommendation For Toronto Cocktail Available In Our Bottle Shop
Lot No. 40 Rye Whiskey

This full-bodied blended whisky hits all the right notes. It has plenty of rich caramel and oak tones on the nose and palate, plus touches of butterscotch, spicy cinnamon, and clove.

Region: Canada | Tasting Notes: Floral, Spice, Caramel, Oak, Brown Sugar, Vanilla | ABV: 48%

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Ward Eight

The Ward Eight is a classic cocktail that was first created in Boston in the late 1800s. It is a delicious and refreshing drink that combines the sweetness of grenadine with the tartness of lemon juice and the spice of rye whiskey. If you're looking for a cocktail that is both flavorful and easy to make, the Ward Eight is an excellent choice.

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz rye whiskey
  • 3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 oz grenadine
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • Orange twist for garnish

Instructions:

  • Combine all ingredients in a shaker filled with ice.
  • Shake well.
  • Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
  • Garnish with an orange twist.
Taster's Club Recommendation For Ward Eight Available In Our Bottle Shop
Pikesville Rye

First produced in Maryland in the 1890s, Pikesville Rye, along with the rest of the once-booming Maryland Rye industry, was shuttered by Prohibition. The brand reemerged after Prohibition and became the last-standing Maryland Rye, as the rest of the industry's production had ceased. Now produced in Kentucky from extra-aged barrels stored in prime warehouse locations, Heaven Hill Distillery keeps this historic Maryland mark alive.

Region: Canada | Tasting Notes: Spice, Honey, Rye, Cloves | ABV: 55%

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New York Sour

The New York Sour is a classic cocktail that is perfect for those who love whiskey-based drinks with a touch of sweetness. This cocktail combines the flavors of whiskey, lemon juice, and red wine to create a unique and delicious drink. If you're looking to make a New York Sour at home, we have a simple recipe that only requires a few ingredients and one bottle recommendation.

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz. whiskey (bourbon or rye)
  • 3/4 oz. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. simple syrup
  • 1 oz. red wine (a full-bodied, dry red wine like a Cabernet Sauvignon or Malbec works best)
  • Ice

Instructions:

  • Fill a cocktail shaker with ice.
  • Add the whiskey, lemon juice, and simple syrup to the shaker.
  • Shake vigorously for about 10 seconds.
  • Strain the mixture into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice.
  • Slowly pour the red wine over the back of a spoon so that it floats on top of the whiskey mixture.
  • Garnish with a lemon twist or cherry, if desired.
Taster's Club Recommendation For New York Sour Available In Our Bottle Shop
Bulleit Rye

Bulleit Rye is an award-winning, straight rye whiskey with a character of unparalleled spice and complexity. Released in 2011, it continues to enjoy recognition as one of the highest-quality ryes available.

Region: Indiana | Tasting Notes: Vanilla, Honey, Spice | ABV: 45%

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Red Hook Cocktail

The Red Hook cocktail is a delicious and complex drink that combines the flavors of rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, and maraschino liqueur. This cocktail has a unique flavor profile that is both sweet and savory, making it a great choice for those who enjoy complex and sophisticated cocktails. If you're looking to make a Red Hook cocktail at home, we have a simple recipe that only requires a few ingredients and one bottle recommendation.

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz. rye whiskey
  • 1/2 oz. sweet vermouth
  • 1/4 oz. maraschino liqueur
  • Ice
  • Orange peel, for garnish

Instructions:

  • Fill a mixing glass with ice.
  • Add the rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, and maraschino liqueur to the glass.
  • Stir for about 30 seconds until well chilled.
  • Strain the mixture into a chilled cocktail glass.
  • Garnish with a twist of orange peel.
Taster's Club Recommendation For Red Hook Cocktail Available In Our Bottle Shop
Brother’s Bond Rye

Bulleit Rye is an award-winning, straight rye whiskey with a character of unparalleled spice and complexity. Released in 2011, it continues to enjoy recognition as one of the highest-quality ryes available.

Region: Indiana | Tasting Notes: Dried & Tropical Fruit, Caramel, Cream, Herbal, Floral | ABV: 47.5%

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Bonus: The Greenpoint

The Greenpoint cocktail is a modern classic that was created in the early 2000s in the Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. This cocktail is a variation of the Manhattan, which is made with whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters. The Greenpoint adds a touch of herbal complexity with the addition of yellow Chartreuse and a dash of bitters. If you're looking to make a Greenpoint cocktail at home, we have a simple recipe that only requires a few ingredients and one bottle recommendation.

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz. rye whiskey
  • 1/2 oz. yellow Chartreuse
  • 1/2 oz. sweet vermouth
  • 1 dash of Angostura bitters
  • Lemon peel, for garnish

Instructions:

  • Fill a mixing glass with ice.
  • Add the rye whiskey, yellow Chartreuse, sweet vermouth, and bitters to the glass.
  • Stir for about 30 seconds until well chilled.
  • Strain the mixture into a chilled cocktail glass.
  • Garnish with a twist of lemon peel.
Taster's Club Recommendation For Greenpoint Cocktail Available In Our Bottle Shop
High West Double Rye

Thanks to its balance of cinnamon, anise, and honey, High West Double Rye! stands on its own in cocktails, but is great served neat, with a little water, or on the rocks. Its spirited flavor fortifies classic cocktails like the Manhattan and Old Fashioned. It is also crafted to be twice as spicy (think cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves) as your average rye whiskey.

Region: Utah | Tasting Notes: Vanilla, Oak, Honey, Cinnamon, Botanical, Spice | ABV: 46%

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Rye whiskey is a unique spirit that brings complexity and depth to any cocktail. The Manhattan, Old Fashioned, Sazerac, Brooklyn, Scofflaw, Vieux Carré, and Toronto are some of the classic rye cocktails that you can try to spice up your cocktail game. Each cocktail has its own unique flavor profile and ingredients, but they all share the common element of high-quality rye whiskey. We recommend using WhistlePig, Rittenhouse, Pikesville, Bulleit, Sazerac, or Old Overholt as your go-to bottles for creating these delicious cocktails. So, the next time you're looking to impress your guests or enjoy a nightcap, reach for a bottle of rye whiskey and mix up one of these classic cocktails.

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