Stocking Your Home Bar: Rye Whiskey Advice From the Experts


Vieux Carré [Photograph: Robyn Lee]

Last week, we got some expert tips on the best bourbon to buy for cocktails and sipping at home. But these days we often find ourselves reaching for rye-based cocktails instead; sometimes we're just not craving the sweetness of bourbon. So which rye should we buy for cocktails at home? As usual, our experts are full of advice.

Kamal Mukherjee, founder of DrinkUpNY

What's your one must-have bottle of rye?

If I were going to have one bottle of rye in my home bar, it would be Templeton Small Batch Rye Whiskey. Always nice to have a good product that is little hard to find—it's great on the palate and you can boast that you've tracked down something special.

What's your top affordable pick?

Rittenhouse Bottled in Bond 100 Proof Straight Rye Whiskey. Very mixable, good by itself, and fairly easy to find.

Jayson Wilde, Bar Manager at Bourbon and Branch (San Francisco)

If you could only have one rye at home, what would it be?

Rittenhouse 100. It's nice and hot without being too hot. It's got depth, great spice. Ask anyone, it is the best well rye there is. It stands up great in cocktails and it is incredibly affordable. Only downside is the limited allocation.

All for about $20—awesome. What's your favorite rye cocktail?

The Vieux Carré. A blend of rye, cognac, sweet vermouth, Benedictine, Angostura and Peychaud's Bitters.


Sazerac [Photograph: Robyn Lee]

Craig Bridger, bartender at Char No. 4 (Brooklyn)

What's your one must-have bottle of rye?

Well, my one "must have" would also be my "affordable" pick (see below.) But if you've got the cash for it, Whistlepig Rye (10 year old, 100 Proof, 100% rye) will knock your socks off. A delicious whiskey.

Top pick for affordable rye?

Rittenhouse Bottled in Bond. The benchmark American rye whiskey, in my opinion. And our go-to for whiskey cocktails at Char. Unbelievable that it's still under $20 in most places.

What's your favorite cocktail to make with rye?

I gotta go with a Sazerac.

KaMar Gomez, Spirits buyer at Smith & Vine (Brooklyn)

If you could only pick one rye, what would it be?

Gotta go with the Rittenhouse 100 Proof bonded rye. Big and spicy and rich. Delightful in cocktails.

We've heard that one before...Any other favorites?

Lately, I have been straying a bit with the Redemption Rye, a new entry to the market. Not quite as full bodied as Rittenhouse, but nice vanilla and cinnamon spice.

What's your top pick for affordable rye?

Old Overholt. Classic and although cheap, it's certainly good enough to be the call whiskey at plenty of bars and certainly does the job at home for a low price.

What rye cocktail do you make at home?

A Mini Manhattan: rye, sweet vermouth (punt e mes or cocchi vermouth di torino lately), dash of bitters. If I have it, a Luxardo maraschino. I never seem to have an orange peel for garnish.