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.

Red Hook cocktail / 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.

  • Black Manhattan

    Black Manhattan cocktail / Tim Nusog

    Bartender Todd Smith invented this bittersweet Manhattan variation at San Francisco’s Bourbon & Branch in 2005. The Italian amaro Averna replaces sweet vermouth and joins the requisite rye whiskey and Angostura bitters—plus orange bitters—for a darker, more intense take on the classic. 

    Get the recipe.

  • Monte Cassino

    Monte Cassino cocktail / Tim Nusog

    New York City bartender Damon Dyer created this brightly-hued (and flavored) cocktail falling somewhere between a Monte Carlo and a Last Word, an equal-parts mix of rye whiskey, yellow Chartreuse, Benedictine, and freshly squeezed lemon juice. Its name is more than a play on a classic that inspired this contemporary cocktail: Monte Cassino, Italy, is where the Benedictine order was said to be founded. 

    Get the recipe.

  • 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.

  • Greenpoint

    Greenpoint 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 was created by Vincenzo Errico at NYC’s Milk & Honey in 2006. 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.

    Continue to 5 of 20 below.
  • Preakness

    Preakness cocktail / Tim Nusog

    The Preakness finds its answer to the Kentucky Derby’s Mint Julep in this cocktail from bar pro Allen Katz. Although the lesser-known horse race takes place in Baltimore, Katz’s recipe is essentially a Manhattan variation: Benedictine adds botanical depth to the classic combination of rye, sweet vermouth, and bitters, while a lemon twist garnish brightens the drink’s dark, lush flavor profile. 

    Get the recipe.

  • Tender Nob

    Tender Nob cocktail / Tim Nusog 

    Named for the area between San Francisco’s Tenderloin and Nob Hill neighborhoods where bartender Kevin Diedrich invented it at Pacific Cocktail Haven, this spirit-forward drink is both bittersweet and nutty. Its unique flavor profile comes from cognac, rye, two types of amari, and a walnut orgeat. 

    Get the recipe.

  • La Valencia

    La Valencia cocktail / Tim Nusog 

    This bright, herbaceous drink from bar pro Alex Day works for tea time or cocktail hour: He infuses rye whiskey with chamomile tea, then combines it in the shaker with manzanilla sherry, yellow Chartreuse, lemon juice, simple syrup, and bitters.

    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.

    Continue to 9 of 20 below.
  • 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.

  • Red Hook

    Red Hook 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. It employs rye, maraschino liqueur, and Punt e Mes, adding a slightly more bitter touch to the classic. 

    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.

  • Boulevardier

    Boulevardier cocktail / Tim Nusog

    This Negroni variation was invented by the publisher of Paris expat magazine “Boulevardier” not long after its predecessor, but its effect is quite different from the classic cocktail of gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth: A simple swap of either bourbon or rye whiskey for gin produces a drink that is rich and warming rather than crisp and bracing.

    Get the recipe.

    Continue to 13 of 20 below.
  • New York Sour

    New York Sour cocktail / Tim Nusog

    There are all kinds of variations on the classic Whiskey Sour. Invented in the 1870s or the 1880s (and possibly in Chicago), the “New York” version follows the whiskey, lemon juice, sugar, and egg white recipe, with a float of red wine adding dry fruity notes and striking visual flair. For this recipe from bartender Allen Katz, you can use bourbon or rye, the latter of which will yield a spicier drink. 

    Get the recipe.

  • 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.

  • 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 / Tim Nusog

    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.

    Continue to 17 of 20 below.
  • 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.

  • Blinker

    Blinker cocktail / Tim Nusog

    In its original 1930s form, the Blinker was a bittersweet concoction of rye whiskey, grapefruit juice, and grenadine. Modern incarnations, including this version from bartender Naren Young, swap the grenadine for raspberry syrup to produce a more delicious, yet equally vibrant, drink. 

    Get the recipe.

  • Remember the Maine

    Remember the Maine cocktail / Tim Nusog

    Named for a rallying call from the Spanish-American War (“Remember the Maine, to Hell with Spain!”), this stirred cocktail resembles many of the classics: Rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, and cherry liqueur make it similar to a Manhattan or a Red Hook, while an absinthe rinse is a nod to the Sazerac. Thanks to its rich and herbaceous qualities, it has become a classic in its own right. 

    Get the recipe.

  • Scofflaw

    Scofflaw cocktail / Tim Nusog

    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 café along the Seine as the Americans sip their bootlegged beer in basements. 

    Get the recipe.