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Classic Rye Cocktails


A bar room staple, the Manhattan has been attributed to Winston Churchill's mother in the 1870s and as such predates the gin Martini. It was at some point annexed by Canadian whisky, which robbed it of some of its bang. In recent years it was been made with Bourbon, which makes more sense as its flavor will come through the cocktail without having to be added at pyrotechnic levels. In any case, straight rye is the proper base for this drink. This one is termed perfect because of the use of two vermouths.

2 or 3 ounces rye
1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
1/2 ounce dry vermouth
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 maraschino cherry

Mix rye, vermouths, bitters and, for those with a sweet tooth, a dash of cherry juice, in a cocktail shaker over ice. Shake for one minute to form crystals in the mix. (You may want to hold it in a towel as it will get quite cold.) Strain in Martini glass and garnish with cherry.


The jury is out on whether this should be properly made with rye or bourbon as it was evidently invented by an old Kentucky whiskey man, James E. Pepper.

1 sugar cube
1/4 lemon
2 dashes bitters
2 ounces rye
splash of seltzer water
1 thick orange slice
1 maraschino cherry

Muddle sugar and juice of lemon in the bottom of an Old-fashioned glass with a spoon or pestle. Add bitters, rye and seltzer over ice. Stir and garnish with orange splice and cherry.


Invented in New Orleans, the Sazerac was actually first made with a Cognac of the same name before rye was substituted. One of the world's first cocktails, it is old enough that it originally contained absinthe.

1 cube of sugar
2 dashes bitters
1/2 ounce pastis (Absente is a particularly close absinthe substitute)
2 ounces rye whiskey (Sazerac Kentucky Straight Rye seems appropriate)
lemon twist

Crush sugar cube in bitters. Coat Martini glass with pastis. Mix the remainder in a shaker with sugar, rye and ice and shake moderately. Strain into glass and add lemon twist.

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