I got a bottle of rye whiskey this week. It is trendy to drink rye these days, but I like the taste of rye quite a bit. To me, it is less-sweet bourbon with some spicy flavor. Rye has familiar flavors, but is different enough to justify seeking out for specific cocktails. I certainly understand why Manhattan fans prefer a good rye to bourbon.
But I am not a Manhattan lover (sorry, too sweet for me), so I experimented with rye cocktails this week. We have lemons and mint in the garden, and I stumbled on the Whiskey Smash, which uses both. It turns out that in the first half of the 20th century the Whiskey Smash was a very, very popular drink. Think “Cosmo popular”. Then it wasn’t. Rye went out of style and the Smash went with it. But Rye is back, and the Whiskey Smash deserves a comeback as well. Then, if there is any karma in the world, maybe the Cosmo will go away, along with the Appletini. One can only hope.
Ironically, the “Smash” is a balanced and relatively welcoming drink. You might think the lemon and mint will be strong flavors, but they match well with the sugar and rye. The rye keeps the drink from being too sweet and you can pick out the spice notes as well. This is a mellow drink, with integrated flavors, that goes down very easy. If you want to relax with a nice drink and a book, or play casual bridge with a few friends the Whiskey Smash is a good cocktail to try.
The Whiskey Smash:
Notes Before You Start:
– Rye whiskey is easy to find these days, Usually about $30 bucks for a good bottle, and there are a few choices out there. Ask at a good liquor store for recommendations.
– No, rye whiskey does not taste like rye bread, or caraway, thank goodness.
– When making the drink you do not want big chunks of mint in the final drink, some small pieces will come through the strainer- that is OK.
What You Get: A balanced, easy-to-make cocktail that features the flavor or rye whiskey. This drink is a good intro to rye whiskey.
What You Need: Rye whiskey. No other special equipment required.
How Long? 5 Minutes, max, to make the cocktail. This is a drink you can make anytime.
– 2 oz. rye whiskey (or bourbon, if that is what you have)
– 1 oz. simple syrup (1:1 ratio of sugar to water)
– 1 lemon, quartered
– ½ cup of fresh mint (about a handful)
- Place lemon and mint in a cocktail shaker or sturdy class. Muddle mint and lemon with muddler or wooden spoon.
- Add rye, simple syrup and ice to cocktail shaker. Shake / mix thoroughly.
- Strain mixture into a lowball glass, add ice and garnish with sprig of mint. Serve.