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Rye whiskey is full bodied and spicy: perfect for cocktails of all kinds! Here’s more about it and some of the top drinks with this liquor.

Whiskey ginger

It’s spicy, it’s peppery and it might grow a little hair on your chest: it’s rye whiskey! This variety of whiskey is popular for drinking straight up and including in cocktails. In fact, some of the most famous classic drinks are made with rye: think Manhattan and Sazerac. What exactly is this special type of liquor, and why use it in your drinks? We’ve got a quick look at what it is, some brands we love, and the top rye whiskey cocktails to use it. Keep reading!

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 is known for its strong, spicy flavor.

Whiskey is a family of distilled liquor made by fermenting grain mash: wheat, rye, barley or corn. It’s then aged in wooden barrels, usually made of oak. There are many types of whiskey based on country and style of production, like rye, bourbon, Scotch, Canadian whisky, Japanese whisky, and Irish whiskey.

What does rye whiskey taste like?

Rye whiskey is full bodied and spicy, with a peppery finish. It’s much dryer than the flavor of bourbon, which is sweeter (and made of at least 51% corn).

How much alcohol is in rye whiskey? It ranges from 40% to 60% ABV (alcohol by volume), depending on the brand.

Why we like it

Rye whiskey is full bodied with a spicy finish. It’s great for whiskey lovers, but there are even some for whiskey beginners. Try the Ward 8, Whiskey Sour or Whiskey Ginger to make rye more palatable. If you love the spicy bite of rye, then go for a boozy cocktail like the Manhattan or Sazerac.

How much does it cost?

Compared to other liquors, rye whiskey is mid-priced. Quality and pricing varies. You can buy a mid-priced 750 ml bottle for $25 to $35. But the high end can go up to $700 plus.

What are some good brands of rye whiskey? We recommend Bulleit, Woodford Reserve, Knob Creek, and High West. Crown Royal is Canadian Rye Whisky.

You can drink it straight up, but there are lots of popular rye whiskey cocktails. Here are the top picks, or head to Top 10 Rye Whiskey Cocktails.

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Bourbon Manhattan

Manhattan (& More Rye Whiskey Cocktails)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 drink 1x


Here are the secrets to the best Manhattan cocktail recipe! This easy classic cocktail is made with just three ingredients.


  • 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) rye whiskey
  • 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) sweet red vermouth
  • 3 dashes Angostura or orange bitters
  • Garnish: Luxardo cherry or other cocktail cherry


  1. Combine the whiskey, vermouth and bitters in a cocktail mixing glass (or any other type of glass). Fill the mixing glass with 1 handful ice and stir continuously for 30 seconds.
  2. Strain into a coupe or cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry and serve.
  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Stirred
  • Cuisine: Cocktails
  • Diet: Vegan

Keywords: Rye whiskey, rye whiskey cocktails

More cocktail guides

Need more liquor guides? We’ve got them! Here’s all you need to know about home bartending:

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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