Rye to the World: A Whisky Alternative for a Cold Night

I’d imagine it’s been years since your last visit to a rye field. You remember….that warm September afternoon, the way the stalks waved in the wind, the abundant sunshine that brought hope to the distant hillsides, the string section that almost made you cry with its interpretation of Bartok’s “Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta.” Or maybe rye brings you back to Soviet propaganda posters, where a babushka-wearing ingénue holds the grain in one hand and a beet in the other. I forgot all of these associations during an evening spent with some Jim Beam Rye Whiskey.

On first sniff, I was surprised by the sweetness—there were a few notes of caramel and brown sugar. The taste, however, was sharp and almost spicy. By law it’s required to come from a mash of at least 51 percent rye, compared to bourbon, which is distilled from corn. Rye House near Union Square is an excellent place to enjoy this rich and complex spirit. Their long wooden tables are inviting, elegant, and will give you plenty of room to sample favorites such as Old Potrero and Pappy Van Winkle rye whiskeys. By the time you head out into the cold, you’ll be warm and wise and left with a taste that’s hard to forget. For home entertaining on a winter night, try a Sazerac, a classic rye whiskey cocktail with roots in New Orleans.

Sazerac 2 oz rye whiskey 5 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters ¼ ounce absinthe 1 sugar cube 1 lemon twist

Combine ingredients and shake with ice. Garnish with lemon twist, or a slab of peel. Enjoy!

[Photo/ / CC BY-SA 2.0]