Drink to make to compare ryes?

I’m just dipping my toe into bourbon (probably a bad idea, as I already spent plenty on wine). A friend has been doing the same, which makes it kind of fun when we get together. Tomorrow, we’re both going to try rye for the first time. We picked up a Sazerac and a Knob Creek to try. Other than trying them neat, I’m wondering what drink you might suggest that would allow for a good comparison?

I think.you’d want to try it in a cocktail that you’d be likely to drink. Assuming you don’t have one, the most classic rye cocktail that I can think of is the Manhattan.

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Thanks, Corey. Picked up some sweet vermouth today to do just that.

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Sweet vermouths run quite a gamut too. The cheaper ones as a rule tend to be sweeter and substantially less complex than the more complex ones like Carpano Antica and Punt e Mes. I tend to like splitting the recipe with half Carpano Antica and half Dolin Rouge.

And for what it’s worth, Sazerac Rye is actually quite good in a Sazerac. And if you’re looking for another inexpensive Rye to add to your collection, Rittenhouse Rye (Bottled In Bond) is a really nice mixer at around $25. I think it has just a bit more character than Sazerac and, at least by me is both cheaper and easier to find. YMMV.

Have fun!

Thanks for the suggestions. I did pick up a bottle of Carpano Antica, as I remembered seeing it mentioned on here previously.

I agree with Corey…I find that Sazerac rye doesn’t work well in a Manhattan.

My go to Manhattan recipe is as follows:

2oz Rittenhouse
.5oz Carpano Antica
.5oz Punt e Mes
Couple of dashes of Miracle Mile Forbidden Bitters

That said, for about six months now, I’ve been subbing Cocchi Torino Vermouth for the Carpano Antica as I find this dials the sweetness down just a touch.

I will also sub High West Double Rye for Rittenhouse on occasion, but RH is my go to.

One other note…it’s very common to see Bulleit as the standard rye available at bars/restaurants. I find it to be awful…way too sweet for rye.


A Boulevardier is a pretty great rye cocktail as well. Just a Negroni with rye instead of gin. Take Mike’s Manhattan recipe above and half the rye and add an oz of Campari.


Boulevardier is my go-to at home, as well. Might not display differences in rye tho, given vermouth and Campari will be pretty potent together.

Sazerac (the cocktail) is a great suggestion. The absinthe is a wash and Sazerac Rye is fantastic with it. Keep an eye out for Michter’s rye, as well as Nashville Barrel Co, both of which have been pretty solid.

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Thanks for the input, fellas. Looking forward to doing more exploring!

If you aren’t as big into sweet cocktails, a Black Manhattan is a great riff, using an amaro as a replacement for the vermouth, and there can be a lot of variety depending on the amaro/rye combo. Personally, I like a perfect or dry Manhattan if I do one in general, but I agree with @Mike_Cohen that it is helpful to dial down the sweetness on the Carpano Antica. It is just way too cloying and powerful to me if used in most traditional recipes without modification.


Andrew - don’t forget the Luxardo cherries!

Just curious, why aren’t you trying them neat, or with a touch of ice??

Woodford Reserve and Whistle Pig make nice ryes

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Hi Dave,

I did try them both neat and with an ice cube. But, I wanted to also get recommendations for a drink that would showcase the rye, as that’s probably how I’ll drink them. I’ve been enjoying some bourbon lately, but I never have an urge to drink it neat or with an ice cube. I always make an Old Fashioned or something similar, as I like that better. Same goes for when I want tequila, so I figured the same would likely be true for rye.

Thanks for the recommendations. I do like Woodford Reserve bourbon (the regular and the wheat; haven’t tried the double oak or the malt), so will check out their rye for sure.