Rye cocktails often pair the whiskey with another bottle as a helper: sweet vermouth in the Manhattan, a little pastis or absinthe in the Sazerac. But if you don't really want to add another type of booze to your liquor cabinet, you can still enjoy a rye drink at home. Here are nine recipes to get you started.
Let's start with something really simple—about as simple as a cocktail gets. Rye adds peppery spice to the easy stirred drink. As long as you have bitters and sugar on hand, you're good to go.
Like your drinks fresh and spicy? Then this is the rye cocktail for you, bringing together an easy (uncooked!) syrup made from fresh ginger with tart lime.
If you like mint juleps but are looking for something even easier to make, try subbing rye for the bourbon in this simple classic. All you have to do is dissolve sugar in water, then add fresh mint and spirits, then shake away.
Rye has a natural affinity for maple syrup, and we like the way the maple adds both flavor and sweetness. This riff on a classic sour calls on bright, tangy lemon to balance the syrup's earthy richness. Frothy egg whites crown the drink with foam, and a few dashes of Angostura anoint the top.
This cocktail riffs on the traditional flavors found in a Jewish deli using a caraway simple syrup that's rich with woody and floral flavors. It's all lightened up with club soda and cucumber. Serve at a bagel brunch if desired.
The Fine Feller
So you finally got rid of your Christmas tree, but you're missing its piney scent. This cocktail will bring you right back home, thanks to a syrup sweetened with honey and steeped with pine needles. The drink is spiked with rye and lengthened with apple cider and Darjeeling tea—delicious!
Kale Pineapple Basil Smash
In this cocktail, the rye is brightened up with basil, fresh pineapple juice, and kale juice for a drink that's wonderfully sweet-tart and herbaceous.
New York Shrub
Cooking down regular old grocery store balsamic vinegar leaves you with a rich reduction that's surprisingly delicious in cocktails. Here, it's shaken with rye, lemon, and a little simple syrup for a whiskey drink that's wonderfully fresh-tasting.
Salted Peanut Old Fashioned
If you want to get fancy, you can bottle this ready-to-drink cocktail with a capper and everything—but you can also just prep this party drink in advance and keep it in a large size mason jar or sealed pitcher until ready to serve. The drink is inspired by the flavor of ballpark peanuts, and it's made with a touch of salt that balances the sweet and savory flavors of roasted nuts.