Cocktail & Other Recipes By Spirit Rye Whiskey Cocktails

Jane Russell

Jane Russell cocktail in a cocktail glass, garnished with an orange peel balanced on the rim
Image: / Tim Nusog

Rye whiskey’s roots in the United States trace back to the 17th century, when the spirit began to be distilled in colonies including Pennsylvania, Maryland and Massachusetts. Composed of at least 51% rye grains, this whiskey is characterized by its spicy profile and is a popular addition to several classic cocktails, namely the Manhattan and Old Fashioned. It’s also a great choice for classic variations, like the Jane Russell, a Manhattan riff from veteran New York bartender Brian Miller.

Miller is best known for his Tiki drinks and pirate aesthetic, but he cut his teeth at some of New York’s best bars, including Death and Co. and Pouring Ribbons. Naturally, he knows his way around cocktails. To make the Jane Russell, he enlists two rye whiskeys, plus sweet vermouth, Benedictine, Grand Marnier and bitters.

The rye and vermouth combination start this drink off with strong Manhattan vibes, but Miller gets the most from the constituent parts by choosing two different ryes. Russell’s Reserve is six years old and bottled at 90 proof, and it combines oaky sweetness with a hint of vanilla. Rittenhouse is four years old and 100 proof with a distinctly spicy flavor that includes notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and maple. For the vermouth, Miller opts for a small dose of Carpano Antica Formula, which is rich and warming, with notes of vanilla, spices and wild herbs.

The recipe takes a turn from traditional Manhattans with the addition of Benedictine and Grand Marnier. The former is a French liqueur made from a secret blend of 27 herbs and spices, including saffron, cinnamon, fir cones and juniper. The latter is a cognac-based orange liqueur that imbues drinks with bright citrus, bitter orange, vanilla and a nutty nuance. Together, these modifiers merge with the whiskeys and vermouth to add extra flavor and complexity to the cocktail.

Finally, Miller calls on one dash of Bittermens xocolatl mole bitters, which feature cacao, cinnamon and spice and are modeled after the classic mole sauces of Mexico. The Jane Russell isn’t a classic Manhattan, but it’s a recognizable variation that provides plenty to taste and talk about.


  • 1 1/2 ounces Russell’s Reserve rye

  • 1/2 ounce Rittenhouse rye

  • 1/4 ounce Benedictine

  • 1/4 ounce Carpano Antica Formula vermouth

  • 1/4 ounce Grand Marnier

  • 1 dash Bittermens xocolatl mole bitters

  • Garnish: orange twist


  1. Add the Russell’s Reserve rye, Rittenhouse rye, Benedictine, Carpano Antica Formula vermouth, Grand Marnier and mole bitters to a mixing glass with ice and stir until well-chilled.

  2. Strain into a coupe or cocktail glass.

  3. Garnish with an orange peel.