Love the spicy bite of rye? Here are all the top rye whiskey cocktails, from classic to modern! Try the Manhattan, Ward 8, and more.
Love the peppery, spicy bite of rye? This classic type of whiskey is a stark contrast to sweet bourbon and mellow Irish whiskey. Rye packs a punch, and while it’s great sipped neat, it’s ideal for mixing into cocktails. There are so many ways to complement its bold flavor. Here are the top 10 best rye whiskey cocktails! There are classics like the Manhattan, modern spins, and even forgotten classics like the refreshing and balanced Ward 8 (our personal favorite). Ready to get started?
And now…the top rye whiskey cocktails!
This classic rye whiskey cocktail flies under the radar: the Ward 8! Invented in 1898 in Boston, this riff on the whiskey sour needs reviving. The Ward 8 is perfectly balanced and tart. It stars rye whiskey, orange juice and grenadine for sweetness and color, making a deliciously intriguing drink.
Ingredients: Rye whiskey, lemon juice, orange juice, grenadine
The most famous rye whiskey cocktail of all? The Manhattan. This 3 ingredient drink from the 1870's delivers on flavor: hints of pepper and spice come from the rye whiskey, sweet tanginess from the vermouth, and herby nuance from the bitters.
Ingredients: Rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, bitters
Here’s a boozy classic rye whiskey cocktail that’s one of the greats: the Sazerac! This one’s got a surprise element: absinthe gives a black licorice finish to each sip! The Sazerac was invented in New Orleans in the mid-1800’s, and today it's the official drink of the city.
Ingredients: Rye whiskey, Cognac, absinthe, sugar cube, Peychaud’s bitters
Love a Manhattan? Then you absolutely must try this unique spin: the Brooklyn! Maraschino liqueur and dry vermouth add intrigue and round out the flavor in this sophisticated rye whiskey cocktail. The first printed recipe for this drink appeared in 1908.
Ingredients: Rye whiskey, dry vermouth, Maraschino liqueur, Amer Picon or other herbal, citrusy amaro
If you love rye whiskey cocktails like the Sazerac or a Manhattan: this one’s for you: the La Louisiane! This unique mixed drink is a classic cocktail from the 1800’s that most people have never heard of. It’s a lot like a Sazerac: but better.
Ingredients: Rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, Benedictine, absinthe, Peychaud’s bitters
Here’s a crisp, punchy three-ingredient rye whiskey cocktail: the Old Pal! It’s complex and spirit-forward, perfect if you love dry cocktails like a Negroni or a Manhattan. The Old Pal pairs bitter Campari with dry vermouth and fiery rye whiskey into a drink that’s dry, bitter and spicy all at once.
Ingredients: Rye whiskey, dry vermouth, Campari
A fancy spin on the Old Fashioned, the Toronto is a 1920's cocktail featuring rye whiskey and Fernet-Branca! It's alcohol-forward, with a sophisticated, complex, and rich flavor. It balances the earthiness of the rye whiskey with the subtle bitterness of the Fernet-Branca.
Ingredients: Rye whiskey, Fernet-Branca, Angostura bitters, simple syrup
Rye whiskey and ginger ale are the perfect pair: the spicy notes of the liquor meld into the subtle sweet and bubbly notes of the ale. Add a squeeze of lime and a big ice cube, and you’re in business!
Ingredients: Rye whiskey, ginger ale
If you love a Manhattan or Old Fashioned, it’s safe to say you’ll love this drink too: the Vieux Carre! This unique classic rye whiskey cocktail comes from New Orleans: the name means “French Quarter” in French. It’s strong and alcohol forward, made with not one but two types of bitters.
Ingredients: Rye whiskey, Cognac, sweet red vermouth, Benedictine, Peychaud bitters, Angostura bitters
The Trinidad Sour is a surprising rye whiskey cocktail that stars an unprecedented amount of Angostura bitters! Created in 2009 by New York City bartender Giuseppe Gonzalez, this inventive modern classic cocktail really goes big on bitters. But add the almond-citrus notes of orgeat syrup, zingy fresh lemon, and spicy rye whiskey, and it’s a true revelation.
Ingredients: Angostura bitters, orgeat syrup, lemon juice, rye whiskey
What is rye whiskey?
Rye whiskey is a type of whiskey made with a majority of the grain rye. This term refers to either American rye whiskey, made of at least 51% rye mash, or Canadian whisky, which may or may not contain rye. Canadian regulations don’t require it to contain rye, though historically it did.
Rye whiskey is known for its full bodied and spicy flavor, with a peppery finish. It’s much dryer than the flavor of bourbon, which is sweeter (and made of at least 51% corn). Read more at Rye vs Bourbon.
More drinks with whiskey
Want more rye whiskey cocktails? Many of the cocktails below are delicious with rye swapped in for bourbon or the other whiskey types! Here are some of our favorite whiskey cocktail collections:
- Try these 25 Great Whiskey Cocktails, from classic cocktails to modern spins!
- Opt for these Great Bourbon Cocktails, where you can swap in rye if you like
- Got Irish whiskey? Try these deliciously smooth Top Irish Whiskey Cocktails
- Grab your Scotch for these Top Scotch Cocktails Worth Making
- Got Crown? Try the Top 10 Crown Royal Cocktails
Rye Whiskey Cocktails: Ward 8 & More!
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 0 minutes
- Total Time: 5 minutes
- Yield: 1 drink 1x
The Ward 8 is the classic rye whiskey cocktail you need! A riff on the whiskey sour, it features rye, orange and grenadine.
- 2 ½ ounces* rye whiskey
- ¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
- ¾ ounce fresh orange juice
- 1 teaspoon grenadine
- For the garnish: Orange wedge, cocktail cherry or Luxardo cherry
- Place the rye whiskey, lemon juice, orange juice, and grenadine in a cocktail shaker. Add 2 handfuls of ice and shake until cold.
- Strain the drink into a cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange wedge and cocktail cherry if desired.
*To convert to tablespoons, 1 ounce = 2 tablespoons.
- Category: Drink
- Method: Shaken
- Cuisine: Cocktails
- Diet: Vegan
Keywords: Rye whiskey cocktails