20 Intriguing Rye Whiskey Cocktails

There's So Much You Can Do With a Bottle of Rye

Rye Whiskey Cocktail
S&C Design Studios

Rye whiskey is featured in a number of cocktail recipes, from timeless classics to modern creations that offer extraordinary, complex flavors. It's a versatile style of whiskey — rye's signature spice always lets you know it's there, no matter what you're mixing it with.

While the selection of rye whiskeys was rather limited not long ago, it's back in full force! There are many great ryes to explore today that are just waiting for a place in your cocktail adventures.

  • 01 of 20

    Vieux Carre

    Vieux Carre Cocktail

    matucha / Getty Images 

    The Vieux Carre may in fact be rye's signature cocktail. This fascinating mix came out of New Orleans' 1930s cocktail scene and the drink is simple—rye, Cognac, Benedictine, sweet vermouth, and bitters—but the taste is profoundly complex. Try it with Sazerac Straight Rye Whiskey for a genuine taste of The Big Easy.

  • 02 of 20

    Sazerac

    Classic Sazerac Cocktail

    Claire Cohen

    New Orleans has long been a hub for rye whiskey cocktails and the Sazerac is another gem. This very old recipe uses a very long pour of rye, a sugar cube soaked in Peychaud's Bitters, and a hint of absinthe. Mixing it is a ritual in itself, and drinking it is an unforgettable experience.

  • 03 of 20

    Manhattan

    Classic Manhattan Cocktail

    Claire Cohen 

    Whiskey aficionados know that the Manhattan can be made with any whiskey, but rye was the original choice. Proof can be found in "The Professor" Jerry Thomas' books. The 1887 version calls for "1 pony of rye whiskey," "1 wine-glass of sweet vermouth" and Boker's Bitters. For a taste of the oldest-known Manhattan, grab your rye and recreate this favorite!

  • 04 of 20

    Waldorf Cocktail

    Classic Waldorf Cocktail
    Rob Palmer / Photolibrary / Getty Images

    Building on the Manhattan's success, rye was also the whiskey of choice in the famous Waldorf cocktail, a signature drink of the Waldorf-Astoria Bar. You'll simply rinse your glass with absinthe before adding your rye and vermouth mix, for a gentle kiss of sweet anise flavor.

    Continue to 5 of 20 below.
  • 05 of 20

    Ward Eight

    Ward Eight Cocktail on the rocks
    David Douglas/Photodisc/Getty Images

    Cocktails with a whiskey sour approach are also fair game for rye. One you'll definitely want to try is the Ward Eight. It's also been made with bourbon for many years, but it truly deserves rye. The mix of lemon and orange juices with a hint of grenadine is the perfect complement to this bolder whiskey.

  • 06 of 20

    Whiskey Smash

    Jerry Thomas' Classic Whiskey Smash Cocktail

    Claire Cohen

    Though Jerry Thomas didn't define which whiskey to use for his famous smash recipe, rye is ideal. It's a bit like a mint julep, but brings zesty lemon into the mint-syrup mix. Easy to mix up (and easy to drink), it's a refreshing excuse to put your muddler to good use.

  • 07 of 20

    Saratoga Cocktail

    Classic Saratoga Cocktail

    S&C Design Studios

    Brandy and whiskey have long been a dynamic duo in classic recipes, and the Saratoga cocktail is a perfect example. Essentially, this 1880s recipe splits the Manhattan's whiskey with an equal part of brandy. It's a pleasant change that's simple and delightful.

  • 08 of 20

    Whiskey Daisy

    The Classic Whiskey Daisy Cocktail
    Michael Boyny/StockFood Creative/Getty Images

    A bold rye whiskey like WhistlePig will fare very well in the whiskey daisy. This classic is an amplified sour cocktail, pairing whiskey with lemon juice and simple syrup. The main difference is the addition of orange liqueur, and a splash of soda to give it some sparkle.

    Continue to 9 of 20 below.
  • 09 of 20

    Whiskey Highball

    Classic Whiskey Highball Cocktail

    Claire Cohen 

    If you ever have doubts on where to pour your whiskey (besides in your mouth), turn to the simple whiskey highball. There is no fuss with this recipe: all you need is whiskey and ginger ale. The sweet, slightly spicy soda is a great enhancement to any rye, and the ease of mixing it up makes it a great go-to for happy hour.

  • 10 of 20

    Oriental Cocktail

    Oriental Cocktail - Classic Rye Whiskey Cocktail
    Photo Courtesy: © Shannon Graham

    The Oriental cocktail is an intriguing recipe from the 1920s. Rye's spice offsets the drink's sweet and sour profile. It's another enhanced Manhattan, adding Cointreau and lime juice to the whiskey and sweet vermouth base.

  • 11 of 20

    Morning Glory

    Classic Morning Glory Cocktail
    Jeff Kauck / Getty Images

    Most drinks from the late 1800s don't include seven ingredients, so the morning glory is unique in that regard. This recipe also pairs rye whiskey with Cognac then adds small measures of curaçao, absinthe, and club soda. The absinthe makes it especially memorable, definitely worth a taste.

  • 12 of 20

    Millionaire Cocktail

    Classic Millionaire Cocktail With a Strawberry Garnish

    James Baigrie / Getty Images

    As you might expect, the millionaire cocktail is a little more decadent than most. It balances the rye with a pleasant sweetness from grenadine and strawberry and orange liqueurs. Skip the egg white if you like, but it does give the drink a luscious foam that makes the drink magical.

    Continue to 13 of 20 below.
  • 13 of 20

    Liberal Cocktail

    The Liberal Cocktail, A Classic Rye Whiskey Drink
    Rick Rhay / Getty Images

    Amer Torani makes an appearance in the interesting liberal cocktail. That single ingredient transforms this variation on a Manhattan into one of the best-tasting aperitifs you can mix up. Serve it as a dinner party opener, and enjoy the sensation of bitter-accented rye whiskey.

  • 14 of 20

    Algonquin Cocktail

    Algonquin Cocktail
    S&C Design Studios

    Rye whiskey classics are filled with surprises, and another delightful wonder is the Algonquin Cocktail. The Prohibition-era drink pairs rye spice against dry vermouth, accenting the duo with pineapple juice. It's a great recipe for Templeton or Knob Creek rye whiskeys.

  • 15 of 20

    Rock and Rye

    Rock and Rye - Homemade Whiskey Recipe
    Image Source / Getty Images

    While you can buy rock and rye, it's fun to make at home. Originally a tonic to cure whatever ails you, this funky infusion deserves to be revisited with today's multi-faceted rye whiskeys. You'll need a few fruits and a couple of herbs and spices, but it's the rock candy that really makes it fun.

  • 16 of 20

    Sneaky Pete

    Sneaky Pete Cocktail With Rye Whiskey

    The Spruce

    Forget the White Russian! The Sneaky Pete offers so much more flavor for a perfectly smooth, comforting mixed drink. You'll find the same coffee liqueur and cream combination, it's simply backed up by rye whiskey instead of vodka. For such a small change, it makes a big impact.

    Continue to 17 of 20 below.
  • 17 of 20

    Cocoa Old-Fashioned

    Cocoa Old-fashioned Cocktail
    Foodcollection/Getty Images

    Grab a bottle of Old Overholt Rye, and start the chocolate infusion of your dreams! The cocoa Old Fashioned is a fun cocktail, and definitely not your typical sugary chocolate cocktail. The recipe calls for infusing the whiskey with cacao beans, then giving it the classic Old Fashioned treatment, complete with an orange and cherry muddle.

  • 18 of 20

    Pumpkin Spice Martini

    Pumpkin Spice Martini
    Rob Palmer / Photolibrary / Getty Images

    Do you get a pumpkin craving when autumn arrives? You're not alone! The pumpkin spice martini is a great way to satiate that desire. The recipe accents rye whiskey with pumpkin and anise liqueurs, and gives you the option of adding an egg white to make the drink's mouthfeel creamier and more luscious.

  • 19 of 20

    Big Fat Elvis Shooter

    Big Fat Elvis Bacon Whiskey Shooter

    Jason Westplate 

    The majority of shots don't take a day to prepare, but the Big Fat Elvis is no ordinary shot: it's a project. This is your chance to make bacon-washed rye whiskey and peanut butter-infused amaretto. If those aren't interesting enough, maple syrup and applewood-smoked sea salt might be enough to draw you in! Patience is key.

  • 20 of 20

    Toffee Eggnog

    Toffee Eggnog

    S&C Design Studios 

    If you haven't mixed rye into your eggnog, you're missing out on a wonderful holiday treat. This toffee eggnog is a made-from-scratch recipe that sweetens things up with toffee syrup. We prefer rye in this drink because of its alluring spice notes.