Cocktail & Other Recipes By Spirit Rye Whiskey Cocktails

20 Rye Whiskey Cocktails to Try Right Now

Rye shows why it’s the spice of life in these 20 delicious drinks.

Longshoreman cocktail
Image: / Tim Nusog

The first half of this list is “bartender’s choice” cocktails, contemporary creations that come straight from the cocktail shakers of today’s top bartenders. The second half is classics, both pre-Prohibition standards and more modern ones that have achieved worldwide acclaim. You’re sure to find something for every palate among these 20 drinks.

Bourbon’s cousin rye is just as classic an American spirit as its relative and can play in just as many ways. Boasting big, spicy and brash flavors, rye whiskey is the backbone in many classic cocktails and new recipes alike. Pair the spirit with everything from vermouth and beer to fruit and chocolate to see just how versatile it can be.

  • Bananarac

    Bananarac cocktail / Tim Nusog

    There aren’t many times you’ll find rye whiskey and a tropical fruit like banana together, making recipes like this one all the more special. This spin on the New Orleans staple Sazerac has the usual suspects of rye, absinthe and bitters but adds a special flair with the additions of Armagnac and Giffard Banane du Brésil liqueur.

    Get the recipe.

  • Red Hook

    Red Hook cocktail / Tim Nusog

    A member of the family of cocktails inspired by the Brooklyn (itself a close relative of the Manhattan) and named for one of the borough’s neighborhoods, this cocktail created by Vincenzo Errico at NYC’s Milk & Honey in 2003 employs rye, maraschino liqueur and Punt e Mes, adding a slightly more bitter touch to the classic. 

    Get the recipe.

  • Great Pumpkin

    Great Pumpkin cocktail / Tim Nusog

    Take your flip into fall with this seasonal cocktail, created by Jim Meehan and served at New York City’s PDT. Equal parts rye and apple brandy form the backbone that’s slightly tempered with maple syrup’s sweetness. Add an egg white for creaminess and pumpkin ale for texture as well as autumnal flavor, and you’ll have a new cocktail you’ll be craving in the colder months.

    Get the recipe.

  • Embarcadero

    Embarcadero cocktail

    Claire Sprouse

    Claire Sprouse now helms Hunky Dory in Brooklyn, but she created this cocktail while in San Francisco. The Boulevardier-ish concoction, consisting of rye, gentian amaro and sweet vermouth, is named for one of that city’s main thoroughfares—some might even call it a boulevard. 

    Get the recipe.

    Continue to 5 of 20 below.
  • Tootsie Roll

    Tootsie Roll cocktail / Tim Nusog

    Inspired by the nostalgic candy, bar pro Aisha Sharpe’s  treat is for adults only. Rye shows its sweeter side when it’s paired with Pedro Ximénez sherry and a couple of dashes of chocolate bitters add the classic flavor of the cocktail’s namesake candy. Serve garnished with a speared Luxardo cherry.

    Get the recipe.

  • Rub & Rye

    Rub & Rye cocktail / Tim Nusog

    Spicy and fizzy, this drink features savory flavors and a hint of sweetness. Shake rye, lemon juice, maple syrup and an egg white until foamy. Strain into a pint glass, then make things interesting by adding in barbecue bitters and a few glugs of beer. Serve rimmed with mesquite salt or your favorite barbecue rub and garnished with a piece of beef jerky.

    Get the recipe.

  • Stone Fence

    Stone Fence cocktail / Tim Nusog

    Though it was originally intended for fall sipping, this cocktail is delicious enough to drink all year long. Rye shines when mixed with a dash of Angostura bitters and then topped with fresh apple cider. The sweet, spicy and boozy mix is perfected with a sprig of mint as a garnish.

    Get the recipe.

  • Jane Russell

    Jane Russell cocktail / Tim Nusog

    Up the ante with this elegant concoction from drinks maestro Brian Miller that’s sure to impress. It features two kinds of rye, vermouth, Grand Marnier and Benedictine. Add a dash of mole bitters to round it all out and garnish with an orange twist to tie everything together.

    Get the recipe.

    Continue to 9 of 20 below.
  • Greenpoint

    Greenpoint cocktail / Tim Nusog 

    Another member of the Brooklyn-spinoff family and also created at Milk & Honey, this cocktail takes its name from the popular neighborhood located in the borough for which its parent drink is named. In it, rye and sweet vermouth are joined by yellow Chartreuse, as well as orange and Angostura bitters, producing a delicious and gently herbaceous cocktail.

    Get the recipe.

  • Longshoreman

    Longshoreman cocktail / Tim Nusog

    What happens when you swap Averna amaro in place of Angostura bitters in a Manhattan? You get this cocktail from pro bartender Abigail Gullo. Stir rye, amaro and a bit of Punt e Mes with ice, then strain into a chilled coupe. Complete it all with a flamed orange peel to add a bit of flair.

    Get the recipe.

  • Vieux Carré

    Vieux Carré / Tim Nusog

    First introduced at New Orleans’ legendary Carousel Bar at Hotel Monteleone in the 1930s, this cocktail is a mix of many good things that join forces to create a great cocktail. Stir together Benedictine, sweet vermouth, cognac and rye whiskey with pimento bitters and ice, then strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a maraschino cherry or lemon twist. 

    Get the recipe.

  • Manhattan

    Manhattan cocktail / Tim Nusog

    This classic rose to worldwide fame shortly after it was introduced at NYC’s Manhattan Club around 1880 and dipped in and out of popularity for a while until it found solid footing as a classic that’s still beloved today. Spicy rye truly shines in this recipe, alongside sweet vermouth and Angostura and orange bitters. Garnish with a brandied cherry to complete the appeal.

    Get the recipe.

    Continue to 13 of 20 below.
  • Sazerac

    Sazerac / Tim Nusog

    As a close cousin to the Old Fashioned, New Orleans’ Sazerac has been around since the late 1800s, although it didn’t receive the title of the official cocktail of the Big Easy until 2008. Equal parts of rye and cognac create a boozy yin-yang that’s enhanced with a little water, sugar and bitters. Serve in an absinthe-rinsed glass to complete the New Orleans flair.

    Get the recipe.

  • Brooklyn

    Brooklyn cocktail / Tim Nusog

    Less well-known than its NYC borough sibling, this cocktail, essentially a modified Manhattan with a touch of Martinez, stirs together rye, dry vermouth, maraschino liqueur and Amer (Picon or Bigallet China-China). Top it off with a cocktail cherry—it’s the Brooklyn way.

    Get the recipe.

  • Waldorf

    Waldorf cocktail / Tim Nusog

    As a relative of the Manhattan, this drink is one of the remaining legacies of the 20th-century-era Waldorf hotel in New York City. Rye and sweet vermouth join Angostura bitters in an absinthe-rinsed glass for old NYC elegance.

    Get the recipe.

  • Scofflaw

    Scofflaw cocktail

    While the U.S. suffered through Prohibition, Parisians were partying it up with this more fruit-forward take on a rye cocktail. Shake the whiskey with dry vermouth, lemon juice, grenadine and orange bitters, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Sip while pretending you’re sitting in a cafe along the Seine as the Americans sip their bootlegged beer in basements. 

    Get the recipe.

    Continue to 17 of 20 below.
  • Ward Eight

    Ward Eight cocktail / Tim Nusog 

    One of Boston’s major contributions to craft cocktails, the Ward Eight has been around since the 20th century. Rye and lemon and orange juices get a hit of ruby-red color thanks to a splash of grenadine, accented with two speared cherries.

    Get the recipe.

  • Toronto

    Toronto cocktail

    Michael Dietsch

    Take a trip to the North with this classic. Canadian rye helps to tame the bitter notes of Fernet-Branca, and a little bit of simple syrup helps to lighten the mix. Add Angostura bitters and garnish with an orange twist.

    Get the recipe.

  • Old Pal

    Old Pal cocktail / Tim Nusog

    This Negroni-format drink, a slightly lighter Boulevardier (and created by the same bartender), sees rye stirred with Campari and dry vermouth in equal parts. A lemon twist emphasizes the drink’s lighter, brighter side.

    Get the recipe.

  • Monte Carlo

    Monte Carlo cocktail

    Countryman Press

    This spin on a Manhattan first appeared in 1948 in David Embury’s “The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks. While this recipe from Michael Dietsch’s “Whiskey: A Spirited Story with 75 Classic & Original Cocktails” is slightly updated, the spirit remains the same. Stir together rye, Benedictine and Angostura bitters, then serve in a rocks glass over a large ice cube. 

    Get the recipe.