A member of the whiskey family, rye is known for its dark amber color and distinctive black pepper notes. Where bourbon’s mash bill must contain 51 percent corn, a rye whiskey must contain at least 50 percent rye and is not required to be aged for any definitive amount of time. Despite taking on some flavors of caramel and vanilla throughout the aging process — often in new charred oak barrels — rye whiskey always maintains the spicy and smoky notes that define the spirit.
As far as cocktails go, the Manhattan is far and away the most popular cocktail using rye as its base. While the Manhattan can be a delightful tipple in its own right, there are a number of other classic cocktails that feature rye in deliciously creative ways. If you’re looking to expand your repertoire of rye cocktails beyond the Manhattan, check out these four classic recipes.
The Brooklyn Cocktail
Don't Miss A DropGet the latest in beer, wine, and cocktail culture sent straight to your inbox.
If you’re looking to experience new rye cocktails beyond the Manhattan, the Brooklyn cocktail might just be the perfect place to start. The two cocktails are similar in the sense that they both contain rye whiskey and vermouth, but where the Manhattan favors sweet vermouth, the Brooklyn subs dry vermouth. To try a Brooklyn for yourself, combine rye whiskey and dry vermouth with Maraschino liqueur and Amer Picon in a mixing glass, and stir until chilled. Strain into a chilled coupe glass and serve garnished with a cocktail cherry.
First developed at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris during American Prohibition, the Scofflaw is a classic sip that has been compared to a pomegranate and whiskey Cosmo. The cheekily named drink is made by combining rye, dry vermouth, fresh lemon juice, and grenadine, the Scofflaw offers a delicate combination of citrus, spice, and everything nice.
The Vieux Carré
Created in 1938, the Vieux Carré gets its name from the French Quarter of New Orleans, where it was created at the iconic Carousel Bar. Packing a punch, the classic cocktail contains equal parts rye and Cognac as well as vermouth, an herbal liqueur called Bénédictine, and both Angostura and Peychaud’s bitters.
Made with rye, Demerara syrup, Peychaud’s bitters, and a lemon twist, the Sazerac is a classic cocktail named after a popular whiskey brand. Created at the famed Sazerac House in New Orleans, the cocktail borrows its name from Sazerac Rye, the whiskey that was used to develop its recipe. When sipping a Sazerac, you’ll enjoy a slight citrus aroma and balanced flavor, with rye’s spiced notes complemented by the herbal essences of bitters.