The Revolution and Revival of Rye Whiskey

A grass widely grown for its resourceful grain and closely related to barley, rye is used in numerous everyday products such as bread, beer, and our personal favorite, whiskey. One of the first types of alcohols produced in the United States, rye whiskey quickly became a popular pick for early American drinkers and held on to its popularity for well over 100 years. The fall of rye took place after prohibition ended and more people started turning to the sweet and full bodied taste of bourbon. Below we are going to briefly explain the history of rye, as well as the similarities and differences compared to bourbon, and will share some of our favorite cocktails that contain this comeback kid whiskey.

History of Rye Whiskey

George Washington WhiskeyHaving its ups and downs, the history of rye whiskey is a rich yet inconsistent one. Poor, Rye, you have been through a lot. Mainly prevalent in the northeastern United States during the 1700 and 1800s. Whiskey, rye in particular, was so popular that George Washington himself had a distillery at Mount Vernon that was dedicated to its production. Demand for the alcohol grew mainly due to the American Revolution. Rum, which had been the most commonly consumed spirit previously, quickly lost favor considering it was hard to obtain from the British West Indies and also difficult to produce domestically.

As the popularity of distilling whiskey grew, America’s politicians, Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton in particular, sought out new ways to reduce the national debt in the aftermath of the revolution by deciding to tax the production of the drink. Naturally, this caused an uproar among distillers and a rebellion ensued. Numerous distillers refused to pay, and simply didn’t. Attacks were also documented against tax collectors. Troops were dispatched and the whiskey rebellion eventually fell apart in time, giving Washington and Hamilton assurance that their new government could keep order. The Whiskey Tax was luckily nixed during the Jefferson administration and production continued to flourish.

Rye remained a favored American drink for many years, that is until the end of Prohibition. During the years of prohibition, rye was produced in great quantities. Templeton whiskey, produced in Templeton, Iowa, was famed for it’s smooth finish. Templeton rye was so popular in fact that it became Al Capone’s choice drink and was in turn distributed by the bootlegging king himself to speakeasies in Chicago, New York, and San Francisco. However, while rye whiskey was an easily accessible alcohol to obtain during the ban, the end of prohibition brought a call for new liquors and different flavors. It was put aside for the more easily produced bourbon, and was deemed an out of style, old person’s drink of choice and remained in the shadows for many years. Luckily, it has again been embraced as a traditional American spirit and is being placed back into classic cocktails, as well as new recipes, while the U.S. nourishes a whiskey revolution and revival.

The Difference Between Rye and Bourbon Raw Rye Grain for Whiskey

When it comes to whiskey it is essential to know the differences between the varying types. While there are numerous styles with different processes, rye and bourbon actually have quite a bit in common, although each end product has a unique taste all its own. For one, both whiskies have to be aged in new aged oak barrels for a minimum of two years. Both can also never be distilled to over 80% ABV (Alcohol by Volume). While they share common characteristics, there are still plenty factors that set them apart.

What exactly is the difference between bourbon and rye whiskey? The most prevalent difference is that rye is of course made with mostly rye grain, while bourbon is created using mostly corn. In American rye, the spirit has to be made from 51% rye. Rye is also crafted in Canada but Canadian rye whiskey has less strict rules and doesn’t require a minimum grain requirement when it comes to naming a whiskey a true rye. Bourbon is only crafted in America and has to contain 51% corn in order to earn its title.

The flavors you receive due to the change in ingredients is enormous. Rye has a far more dry flavor and is dominated with spicy notes, it also tends to be a lot leaner than its bourbon counterpart. Bourbon has a fuller body and is sweeter in taste. However, sometimes the two whiskeys do overlap in taste due to other remaining ingredients used in each. While both have to contain 51% of their respected ingredients the other 49% also play a part in the final outcome of each. While rye adds a spicy touch, wheat adds a sweetness, while corn adds the alcohol. This means that although rye whiskey mainly consists of mainly rye grain, a high volume of wheat may mellow out the flavor. Just as well, adding the rye grain into a bourbon may make it more spicy and similar in taste to a rye whiskey.

Our Favorite Rye Whiskey Cocktails

Sazerac Cocktail

Sazerac Cocktail


Sazerac is a cocktail that was originally crafted in The Big Easy and some claim it as one of America’s oldest cocktails. Rye is a key ingredient in this New Orleans tradition and it is normally served in a whiskey or lowball glass.

– 1 sugar cube
– 2 oz of rye whiskey
– Dash of Peychaud’s bitters
-1/4 oz of absinthe
-1 tsp of cold water
– 3 or 4 ice cubes
– lemon peel for garnish

First coat your glass in absinthe by swirling it around in your glass, remove the excess. Mix the cold water and sugar together. Add the rye, bitters, and ice cubes, stirring well. Strain into your glass and then twist your lemon peel, adding the oils to your cocktails. Drop the peel in the glass. Now you’re ready to enjoy!

Manhattan Cocktail



The history of the Manhattan is one that was never quite agreed on. Some say it was invented in New York City during the 1870s during a banquet honoring presidential hopeful Samuel Tilden. Others say it originated in the 1860s at a bar off Broadway. What we can all agree on is that it is still a simple and delicious drink after all these years.

– 2 oz of rye whiskey
– 1 oz of sweet vermouth
– A few dashes of Angostura bitters
-1 maraschino cherry

All ingredients should be stirred in a bar glass. Manhattans are never shaken unless specifically asked. The cocktail is then to be strained into a chilled cocktail glass and then garnished with a maraschino cherry.

Old Fashioned Cocktail

Old Fashioned Cocktail


Ah, the old fashioned. The drink that really put rye on my beloved spirits list. Definitely one of those drinks you order at the bar to show everyone how classy you are. The history of the drink is that it originated at a gentlemen’s club in Louisville, Kentucky in honor of whiskey distiller James E. Pepper during the 1880s, it was then supposedly introduced to NYC where it really gained popularity.

-2 oz rye whiskey
-A few dashes of Angostura bitters
-1 sugar cube
-1 bar spoon of seltzer water
-Lemon peel for garnish

Place the sugar cube at the bottom of your mixing glass. Cover the cube with your seltzer water and bitters. Muddle the sugar and break it down into the liquid so it can be combine with your rye. Once muddled add the whiskey. Once all the ingredients are thoroughly mixed add ice to chill your drink. Stir for 30 seconds and then strain the liquid into a traditional old fashioned glass. You can add a large ice ball and lemon peel for garnish.


Draper Liquor Decanter

Draper Liquor Decanter

Whiskey Flight Set

Whiskey Flight Set

Statesman DOF Glass

Statesman Whiskey Glass

How to Make Boozy Homemade Donuts

Few things could be considered more popular daily indulgences than donuts and booze, but they can rarely be found together. Drinking at breakfast is mostly taboo, except on Sundays, and Sunday brunch is typically reserved for stuffier fare, such as crepes or poached eggs. Donuts are usually made in the wee hours of the morning, so by happy hour, they’ve all gone stale. Enter these boozy homemade donuts to solve this problem forever.

Baking with booze is already an accepted culinary hobby, and desserts with alcohol have been around for generations. Since donuts are basically cake to eat at breakfast, boozy homemade donuts are a natural progression. Here are six easy homemade donut recipes, each inspired by a classic cocktail, and incorporating spirits and ingredients that will tickle any taste palette. These donut recipes are perfect brunch menu ideas, or for something unique at cocktail parties. So pop open a bottle of bubbly, and let’s learn how to make homemade donuts.

How to Make Donuts

How to Make Doughnuts

All of our boozy donuts are based on the same easy recipe. Just stir together 2 cups of all-purpose baking mix, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1 egg for your starting mixture. For each easy donut recipe, simply add the suggested alcohol to the base mixture. This amount of donut batter will make approximately 12, although you can divide it up before you add the booze to make an assortment. Just lighten up a little with the booze when making smaller batches. Mix well, and roll onto a floured surface until it’s just under half an inch thick. Cut into donut shapes using the rims of a highball and a shot glass. Clever, right?

You can opt for baked donuts or fried. For baking, use a parchment lined cookie sheet, and put them in a preheated 425 degree oven for about 8 minutes. For frying, use enough oil in your pan so that the donuts can be fully submerged when you drop them in, and they’ll float when they are ready to be flipped over. Another couple of minutes to finish the other side, and you are good to go. Let them cool for at least 5 minutes before frosting. Oh, yeah! Frosting!

How to Make Frosting

The donut frosting is made with 1/2 cup of powdered sugar, and a splash of booze. Again, this is enough frosting for 12 donuts, but you can use proportionately smaller measurements if you are making smaller quantities. Use a spoon or basting brush to coat each of the homemade donuts individually. Now it’s time to open up that liquor cabinet.


The Mimosa

Mimosa Cocktail Donut

The most logical choice to bring breakfast hour and happy hour together is the Mimosa. A favorite brunch cocktail, second only to the Bloody Mary, although a spicy tomato juice flavored doughnut just didn’t sound right. Add 1/3 cup of orange juice to your base donut mixture, and a splash of triple sec. Mix well, and cook using your preferred method mentioned above. For the icing, mix one shot of sparkling wine into your powdered sugar, and another splash of triple sec. I added blue sprinkles to mine, in an homage to blue curacao. One bite, and you’ll wish every day was Sunday.


The Old Fashioned

Old Fashioned Cocktail Donut

Since there’s already such a thing as an old fashioned donut, there needs to be an old fashioned cocktail donut. For the donuts, add 1/3 cup of bourbon or rye whiskey to your base mixture, along with 3 dashes of bitters. For the frosting, add a 1 tablespoon of cherry juice to your powdered sugar. These donuts are best served with a tumbler of straight whiskey on the side. As you’re learning how to make donuts, this is a great one to start.

The Pina Colada

Pina Colada Donut

Coconut is a popular flavor in many baked treats, like coconut rum cake. There’s even a specific recipe for Pina Colada cake. For the donut version, add 1/3 cup coconut rum to your mix, and a shot of pineapple liqueur or juice to the icing. Coconut flakes sprinkled on top add a great finishing touch.


The Cosmopolitan

Cosmopolitan Donut

A Cosmopolitan is one of the most popular cocktails around, and this homemade donut recipe will be a hit at your next party, as well. There are a lot of great flavored vodkas out there, so find a top shelf lime or citrus vodka, and add 1/3 cup to your mix. The icing is made with 1 shot of cranberry liqueur, although if you don’t have any in your home wet bar, cranberry juice is good, too. The cranberry liqueur has a wonderful zing, however, and is highly recommended.

The Black and Tan

Black and Tan Donut

The Black and Tan recipe was inspired by the ever popular beer cookies. The beer flavors are complemented by chocolate to create a rich, sweet treat. To your basic mixture, add 1/3 cup of pale ale, and 3 tablespoons of baking cocoa. Use a shot of chocolate liqueur in the icing, and once your iced donuts have fully cooled, dip them in a nice cold glass of Guiness. You’ll be surprised how great this one tastes.


La Cuba Libre

Cuba Libre Donut

Ah! The classic rum and Coke. A standard in hotel bars and frat houses for generations. Use 1/3 cup of spiced rum in your batter, along with a splash of cola. The icing is perfect with just a shot of cola and a squeeze of fresh lime juice added to your powdered sugar. You can also add 1 tablespoon of melted butter to the dough before cooking, to get a taste reminiscent of butter rum cake. Make the full dozen of these easy donuts. They go quickly.

Enter your email for fun drink tips and cool deals.
Cheers! Now, just click the button.
No, thanks. I don't like parties.