Rye Whisky is all the rage these days, and for good reason. Walk into any bar in the United States 100 years ago, and chances are your bartender was making drinks with Rye Whisky, the staple libation of the time. Years later, Bourbon became America's spirit of choice due to its sweet finish and fruity character. In recent years, however, Rye has staged an impressive comeback amongst bartenders, mixologists, and bearded hipsters alike.
Cocktail archeologists have been digging up recipes from the pre-Prohibition era and pride themsleves on recreating a bit of Americana at your local watering hole. Distillers around the country are clambering to get their Rye on the market as well-to-do 20-something urbanites have no problem forking over $15.00 for a craft cocktail.
Among the crowded shelf of Rye whiskys at the local bar, Dickel stands out as a go-to brand. George Dickel Rye whisky is dry and rich with fruit notes of cherries and dates. It is well balanced with a spicy zest and hint of nuts which is the perfect blend of tangy and spicy. 90 proof $26.99
Lillet Blanc is a French aperitif wine made in the Bordeaux region with the addition of citrus liqueurs and other botanicals. Lillet is best served chilled with a slice of lemon or lime and acts as a wonderfully aromatic aperitif during the Summer months.
Lillet can also be used as an ingredient in a range of cocktails, including James Bond's 'Vesper' made popular in both the Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace films. See below for a recipe.
3 measures of Gordon's Gin
1 measure of vodka
1/2 measure Lillet
lemon peel for garnish
The Vesper according to Ian Fleming and James Bond:
"Three measures of Gordon's, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it's ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?"
-Casino Royale, Chapter 7
This classic Gin was born and bred right here on the western slope of the Rocky Mountain State!
"A blend of 12 different fruits, flowers, seeds, and spices infused in a base spirit made with certified organic Jonathan apples grown 5 miles down the road at Ela Family Farms and certified organic Romanian winter wheat distillate. Whole fresh and dried botanicals (never extracts or concentrates) are distilled all together in the final run, using the London method, slowly and under low steam pressure, to produce layers of clean, fresh aromas and flavors." $31.99
Cucumber Gin Fizz
3 slices of cucumber, about 1/4-inch thick plus one for garnish
1/2 ounce fresh juice from 1 lime
1/2 ounce simple syrup
1 1/2 ounces gin, such as CapRock
1 to 2 ounces seltzer water
1. In a cocktail shaker, muddle the cucumber slices with the lime juice and simple syrup until the cucumber has completely dissolved.
2. Fill the cocktail shaker with ice, add the gin and shake for about 10 seconds. Pour the cocktail through a mini strainer into a collins glass filled with ice. Top with seltzer water and garnish with a cucumber slice.
Rye whiskey made in the United States is distilled from a mash made of at least 51% rye, with the remaining portion from corn and malted barley. Rye is aged in charred, new oak barrels. Rye whiskey aged for at least two years may be further designated as "straight rye whiskey."
Here's a review from Bourbonblog.com:
"The nose offers cinnamon, cherry, and spice. Mild tobacco and some cherry flavors hit first. On the mid-palate the rye becomes buttery smooth and well rounded between the sweet and spicy characteristics. This is an incredible sipper straight or on the rocks. Additionally, the balanced spice will make it an excellent mixer as we suggest enjoying it in a Manhattan." $26.99