Rye's In Trend

The comeback of the original American whiskey
By Charles Montanaro
Throughout my career behind the stick, rye has been by far the grandest of discoveries I have come across. Yet, less than ten years ago, ordering a Rye Manhattan would get you a flat Canadian Club tipple for one simple reason: no one had any.

Anciently sleek and spicy, rye was the weapon of choice during the birth of American cocktail history, mentioned in all the pioneering books of old. As soon as Prohibition hit the USA, Rye was brought to its knees, distilleries closed and poor substitutes from Canada flooded the illegal market. Upon repeal in 1933, bourbon rose to power and Scotch had a boom of popularity sending rye straight to the pages of history. It never recovered from the fatal blow the teetotallers imposed on America, until recently.

Over the past couple years, I have sampled a dozen new rye whiskeys, saw producers ramp up their production to match demand and micro distilleries producing ground breaking rye products. To honour this resurgence, I present three great pre-Prohibition and Prohibition cocktails which should never be forgotten.

'The Remember the Maine,' created by Charles H. Baker in remembrance of the 1898 USS Maine sudden explosion in the harbour of Cuba a few months short of the Spanish-American war. This mostly forgotten cocktail is a libation to indulge in at any time of the day. The spicy and robust flavours of Rittenhouse 100 balanced by Antica Formula, a touch of Cherry Heering and finished with Angostura bitters with a lightly Absinthe rinsed coupette will astonish you. A Manhattan-esque well-rounded cocktail where every single ingredient shines through to offer a complex mouth-watering combination.

Working at NOLA, I discovered this beautiful alternative for any punter enjoying a good Sazerac or Vieux Carré. The 'De la Louisiane' created in New Orleans at the Restaurant de la Louisiane and first mentioned by Stanley Clisby Arthur in his book: Famous New Orleans drinks and how to mix them (1937). Here we revised the recipe from the original to reduce the sweetness. The Benedictine and Cocchi de Torino matched with the rugged Sonoma County rye is complemented with Peychaud bitters and an Absinthe rinsed coupette. Result: a perfect post-prandial velvety, elegant and effortless cocktail which will please even the toughest critics.

Finally, the Scofflaw was born from those who clandestinely drank spirits through prohibition, the name defines 'a lawless drinker of illegally made or illegally obtained liquor.' Created in irony of the bill in 1924 at Harry's Bar in Paris it first appeared in Gavin Duffy's Official Mixer's Manual. This libation made with Templeton Rye, lemon juice, dry vermouth and grenadine is one of a kind. One of the rare drinks where adapting the recipe was not necessary: a dry citrusy rye tipple, with a perfect ratio of sour to sweet that will enchant any whisk(e)y drinker.

The cocktails

Remember the Maine


  • 40ml Rittenhouse 100

  • 20ml Carpano Antica Formula

  • 10ml Cherry Heering

  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters

  • Spray Absinthe

Build all ingredients in mixing glass except for the absinthe. Stir until chilled and strain into an absinthe rinsed glass.

With a Maraschino cherry.

De La Louisiane


  • 30ml Sonoma County Rye

  • 30ml Cocchi de Torino

  • 15ml Benedictine DOM

  • 2-3dashes Peychaud bitters

  • Spray Absinthe

Build all ingredients in mixing glass except for the absinthe. Stir until chilled and strain into an absinthe rinsed glass.



  • 40ml Templeton Rye

  • 20ml Lemon juice

  • 10ml Noilly Prat

  • 10ml Grenadine

  • 2 dashes Orange bitters

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker, shake and double strain in a coupette.

With a lemon twist.