Prohibition Cocktail: the Rye Whiskey Cocktail

the Rye Whiskey Cocktail recipe

HAPPY REPEAL DAY! To mark the 80th anniversary of the end of the “Noble Experiment” I’m putting up a classic prohibition-era rye whiskey cocktail. It’s sure easy to make, super delicious and you should make one tonight to celebrate the day alcohol returned to America. For all of you in countries where Prohibition never happened tip one back in gratitude.

For this cocktail I used Bulleit Rye and it is fantastic for making cocktails. Next to the Rittenhouse it’s my favorite rye mixing whiskey. The one trouble with high rye whiskey is that sometimes it can have a very astringent rye spice that can turn a lot of people off to it and during prohibition a lot of really low quality hooch was floating around and so simple cocktails like this became very popular due to necessity. The sugar + bitters completely cuts out the astringent briny rye spice that accompanies Bulleit and brings out some it’s more floral and fruity notes. If you use something like a Rittenhouse the earthy leathery qualities of that burly rye are a bit muted which brings some of the underlying dessert qualities of it to the surface and being 100 proof it still packs a punch.

If you end up trying this cocktail (and I don’t know why you wouldn’t) I’d love to hear what you think, what whiskeys you tried it with and the results of your own experiments.

the Rye Whiskey Cocktail
2 oz rye
1 dash bitters
1 tsp sugar
shake well with ice & strain

Josh Peters

Josh Peters

I read about, think about, write about, and drink whisk(e)y. In short, it's my passion.
Josh Peters

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9 Responses to Prohibition Cocktail: the Rye Whiskey Cocktail

  1. For making cocktails, would you also recommend using Sazerac? Was thinking of making some Ward 8’s this weekend. Does Bulleit Rye give that extra punch of flavor over Sazerac? Different, similar? Thanks!

    • Hey Nate,

      I like things with a higher rye content to give the cocktails a bigger kick so I tend to use whiskey like Bulleit, Dickel Rye, Wild Turkey 101, or Sonoma Rye. Lower rye whiskies (the bare min 51%) like Sazerac, Jim Beam Rye, Knob Creek Rye & Rittenhouse are also good, but they are a bit sweeter, and so less spicy, rye so they have a different effect on the cocktail. There’s no real right or wrong answer, just depends on if you want a spicier or sweeter cocktail. Hope that helps.


  2. That was a tasty way to enjoy some rye. Not much different than an old fashioned, but no need to destroy an orange (which are not cheap here in Alaska) either. Thank you!

  3. This is a good one. I agree that the 95% rye really punches up any cocktail. I like to use home made simple syrup if I’m in a hurry. I also make a “coke” simple syrup paired with a rye or rye heavy bourbon and bitters for a grown up bourbon and Coke. I also use Cheerwine soda (which you probably don’t see in California) to make a good simple syrup for what I call a “Carolina Old Fashioned”.

  4. Made this tonight with Rittenhouse. It was really smooth. The fact that the 100 proof whiskey had no burn was quite surprising.

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