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

© Liquor.com

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

manhattan-cocktail

© Liquor.com

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

© HomeWetBar.com

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

Manly Cupcakes: Bacon, maple and whiskey

Manly CupcakesEveryone likes a little something sweet. Chocolate chip cookies are a perennial favorite.You can’t have a birthday without cake. The best part of holiday meals is going overboard with pie. Cupcakes, however, present a conundrum. These tiny treats are tasty, of course, but their small size and whipped peaks of frosting don’t always fit with a masculine sensibility. However, their portable nature and individually wrapped convenience are perfect for guys at work or play. So we scoured the internet, our kitchens, and the entire globe for ideas to make manly cupcakes more suited to the males of our species. We have the key to manly cupcakes: bacon, maple syrup and whiskey cupcakes.

Hamburger CupcakesWe found lots of desserts for men that looked really tasty, but we wanted to find out, once and for all, how to turn a soft, dainty cupcake into a super-masculine treat. Part of the problem is the way they look. Pink icing, white cake, and pastel sprinkles don’t exactly scream “testosterone.” These hamburger inspired cupcakes, however, certainly up the manliness factor with their tribute to this American classic. The only thing that would make these manly cupcakes better would be a side of peanut butter cookie fries, am I right?

We wanted to look further, though, to find easy desserts to make. Something that guys who usually avoid ovens and stand mixers could handle. We reviewed many great cupcake recipes, and if you follow this set of guidelines, you’ll be on your way to creating the manliest cupcake in the West.

1. Use maple syrup.

By Dvortygirl (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Maple syrup is the manliest sweetener around. First of all, it’s brown, the color of leather and cooked meat. It’s also rich in flavor and adds a natural, woodsy flavor that you can’t get from regular old sugar. Go for quality on this ingredient, and you’ll be off to an impressive start.

2. Use bacon.

Bacon
Obviously. Bacon makes everything better, and manly cupcakes are no exception. You’ve got to cook the bacon before adding it to your batter or frosting, but cooking bacon is a virile activity in itself. When the grease gets hot and you hear that sizzle, you’ll feel very manly about using a bacon cupcake recipe.

3. Whiskey + Cupcakes = Awesome

Whiskey Decanter
Whiskey seals the deal. It’s the perfect way to tie up the flavors of the maple and bacon into a hand-sized pocket of deliciousness. We prefer the sweet, oaky flavor of bourbon, but use your own favorite to give your whiskey cupcakes a personal twist, or use Canadian whiskey in a classic pairing with the maple syrup. Don’t forget to leave a little in the bottle, though. Bacon, maple, and whiskey cupcakes are best enjoyed with a little straight whiskey on the side.

4. Keep it simple.

Maple Bacon Bourbon Cupcakes

from tablespoon.com

Cooking is always manly. Food is survival. Guys tend to avoid baking, though. Too many instructions to follow, and let’s face it – guys are impulsive; baking uses exact measurements, so there is no room for improvisation. So keep it simple. In a lineup of easy desserts to make, it’s easy to point out cupcakes. So even if you’ve never pre-heated an oven, you’ve got this one in the bag. Start with a yellow cake mix. Use the cupcake directions on the back of the box. While you are mixing your batter, add two tablespoons of maple syrup, one tablespoon of whiskey, and one cup of cooked, crumbled bacon pieces. Fill your cupcake pan, then bake as directed on the box. When the whiskey cupcakes come out of the oven, make sure to wait until they are completely cool before icing them. For the icing, start with one container of cake icing in any flavor, and add one tablespoon of maple syrup and a splash of whiskey. Spread the icing over the cool cupcakes, and sprinkle some extra bacon crumbles on the top for some manly cupcakes that mean business!

5. Eat them with your hands.

Messy Cupcake Hand
Okay, we know most people eat cupcakes with their hands, but we need to be cover all the bases. No matter how great it is, whiskey cupcakes are just not as manly when eaten with a plate and a fork. Enjoy your manly cupcakes with as much mess as possible. Eat them outside, next to a fire pit, and a smoldering cigar. No napkins, either.

After you’ve mastered the art of manly cupcakes, you can move on to other challenges. We found this awesome recipe for Chocolate Stout and Bacon Skillet Brownies. Definitely the manliest brownies you’ll ever try.

Chocolate Stout and Bacon Skillet Brownie

from thebeeroness.com

History of American Whiskey

The American Whiskey, a vintage drink, possesses a rich history that quite ably matches its exquisite taste and quality. Whiskey has been the drink of choice for many Americans since time immemorial, and bourbon has possibly been a constant companion as they have gone through life changing and trend setting phases throughout history. Through many wars, triumphs, prohibitions, and rebellions, whiskey has lasted and survived. Each century has only worked to add character to it and make it a more lovable product. Strap yourself in as we take a journey through history and unravel the mystery that is the history of American whiskey.

Origins

The birth place of the American Whiskey can be traced back to the states of Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania in eastern United States. In the year 1791, whiskey began being brewed as a rye based product. The then incumbent president saw promise of added revenue in the venture and so sought to levy taxes on it, which was met by open resistance. This debacle came to be known as the “Whiskey Rebellion.” Irish pioneers who settled in the hilly states of Tennessee and Kentucky were the first to begin brewing American whiskey. In those states they could easily find the necessary raw materials and other resources—which made the making of whiskey almost effortless!

They came across clean lime rich waters and plenty of wood to construct the needed liquor barrels for transportation and storage. Corn, the main ingredient of whiskey, (taking up 51% of the total ingredient share) was also plentiful. At this stage of its inception, the American whiskey saw a further division of two common brands: sour mash and bourbon. Each of these brands, though offering different tastes and experiences, cut out their own niche and held strong reputations for being distinctly American drinks. The sour mash brand, has remained true to its roots, and is still largely produced in Tennessee. No surprisingly, sour mash has become the pride and joy of this mountainous Southern state.

Development

By 1870, the whiskey trade had become well developed across America. Renowned political figures, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and even Abraham Lincoln each had a liquor license, and they participated in the trade in one way or the other (most often privately). At this stage, legislation was bent on providing oversight on the whiskey industry, and this regulation started being enforced. The legislation, however, was not very stringent—and it wasn’t able to keep unscrupulous traders from passing off non-whiskey drinks packaged in whiskey bottles and labeled as such; this oversight was particularly difficult because transportation between distillers and suppliers to customer taverns was handled through use of horse drawn carriages and buggies.

It was quickly discovered that sealed and labeled bottles was the only way to ensure fraudsters were kept at bay. George Barvin Brown began this practice, and he had initially sold only to physicians and medical practitioners. Soon enough, however, reputable taverns bought into the trend of branding their bottles with a label. After some resistance from other traders who were making a killing out of selling sub-standard whiskey, the trend became standard commercial practice (especially when consumers rejected any products that came in unsealed bottles). Sealed bottles with a printed label became the best way to make real money selling whiskey.

In other developments, the year 1897 saw another piece legislation passed to guarantee customers the authenticity of their whiskey. This law, led by Colonel Edmund Haynes Taylor, Jr and the Secretary of the Treasury, John G. Carlise, set out to enforce standards over selling “straight” whiskey. The “Bottled in Bond” act was born, which means that the whiskey must be straight (50% alcohol by volume), and produced by one distillation season under one distiller and on the grounds of one distillery. It also must have been stored in a federally bonded warehouse under the supervision of the U.S. Government for at least four years. This bonded whiskey still holds a reputation for being the best of the best.

Backlash and Recovery

Abuse of alcohol resulted in high levels of drunkenness among the American denizens, which spurred the policy of prohibition. This legislation was directed towards the major vises seen as a detriment to societal values and character. The prohibition era was between 1922 and 1933, and these laws barred production of all alcohol; the supporters of prohibition saw alcohol as a major catalyst for the ills experienced in the society. By the 1933, however, it became apparent that prohibition was going to remain a noble experiment, since its failures were too conspicuous to deny. American whiskey, therefore, survived this great challenge, further forged its existence, and rose to claim its place again in the hearts of Americans.

By 1964 Bourbon had become such an integral part American identity that the US congress acknowledged it as “a distinct product of the USA”; this declaration was a great honor, because it used the symbol of whiskey to unite all Americans. As such, legal statute were then clearly set down for the quality standards of true bourbon. These standards of quality were set to the following: at least 51% corn distilled to 80% alcohol volume. the whiskey can contain only natural ingredients (i.e. no other artificial additions were permitted, save water), and the bourbon was to be aged in specific barrels made only of charred oak. Other American whiskey brands were required to meet additional quality control standards for grain, aging, and proofing in order to qualify certain whiskey designations. It is no doubt these strict standards that have ensured the American whiskey is still a drink of choice.

Some brands of American whiskey that have stood the test of time include Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, Wild Turkey, and Eagle Rare. Distilleries in Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia are open for tours and tastings to allow the public to experience the origins of true American whiskey. Distilleries like Maker’s Mark even allow you create your own mark in the red sealing wax that has become their trademark. Raise a glass to the rich history of  Whiskey with a whiskey glass from our cocktail glassware section.

3 Valentines Day Gift Ideas for Him and Her

It’s that one day a year where you’ve got to show your significant other exactly how much they mean to you with a gift that not only says, “I love you,” but one that says, “I understand you.” If you’re reading this, then it’s safe to assume your guy or girl likes to drink and have fun. Whether it be wine, liquor, or beer, we’ve got a few ideas that could help you say what you need to say, but without spending a lot of dough.

Gifts for Her


1. Giant Extra Large Wine Glass

It’s so big, there’s three words that say how big it really is: Giant, Extra, Large. This handblown mega-glass is so massive it holds an entire 750mL bottle of wine. Do yourself a favor and get a few, so not only could she share a pleasantly wined evening with you, but she could also have an amazing night in with the girls.


2. Parisian Chic High Heel Wine Holder

What is the number one thing girls love the most? If you guessed purse-size animals or jewelry, you’re on the right track, but oh so wrong. Shoes are a girl’s real best friend, and this glitzy high heel wine bottle holder is the perfect mixture of “chic” and “cute” that fits wine bottles of all sizes.


3. Leopard Flip Flop Bottle Opener

In the realm of all things “cute,” a flip flop bottle opener takes the cake. But this isn’t just any slick bottle opener, it’s got that leopard print extra that girls love to wear. Does your girl not like the leopard? Don’t worry, we’ve got it in pink and zebra striped too.

Gifts for Him


1. Simply Class Whiskey Glass Set

Men love feeling like the elite wise-guys of Madison Avenue, and those elite wise-guys drink whiskey. Set your man up with a set of hand blown crystal whiskey glasses. These hold 14 ounces of awesome in a four-inch rim. These beautiful glasses will take you back to a simpler time where having class was respected and the finer things in life were gained through honest, hard work.


2. Personalized Saloon Man Cave Sign

Give your man the expressed right of claiming his territory, without making the mess that your pets do. This 18″x14″ saloon savvy sign, made with real wood, can be personalized with your guy’s name so that all his friends will know they’re entering his domain. What happens in the man cave, stays in the man cave.


3. Vintage Dude Beer Mugs & Flasks

Made from durable, lightweight plastic, with a classy description authorizing your man’s right to just sit, relax, and enjoy his brew. These mega-mugs are perfect for barbecues or hanging out for the big game. We’ve also got decade-personalized tankards available for ages 30, 40, and 50, as well as flasks for 30 and 40.