First Sip: Tuthilltown Rye

By Nick Fauchald Posted April 24, 2007

Rye’s glorious revival has been celebrated for months now—by mixologists, by whiskey geeks and by us. To recap: Bourbon’s spicy, slightly sour (thanks to the rye from which it’s distilled) cousin, which all but disappeared from the American cocktail conscience with the 18th Amendment, is back. But almost all ryes still come from bourbon country, despite the spirit’s roots in the young American Northeast (Whiskey Rebellion, anyone?).

Until now: Last night, the Hudson Valley distillery Tuthilltown Spirits celebrated the release of the first New York–produced Rye since Prohibition. A crowd gathered at the Four Seasons Restaurant to sample Tuthilltown’s duo of rye whiskeys: Hudson Manhattan Rye and Government Warning Rye. The Manhattan Rye is the sweeter, more demure of the two, produced with the eponymous cocktail in mind. The Government Warning Rye is spicier and a little bit smoky, great for sipping and Sazeracs. LeNell Smothers, who was the first retailer to sell Tuthilltown’s whiskies at her Red Hook, Brooklyn shop, was on hand to demonstrate how to make a Perfect Manhattan, a cocktail named not for its transcendence but for the fact that it contains equal parts sweet and dry vermouth. The Manhattan cocktail was conceived using rye, she noted, at the Manhattan club in the 1870s. Now that rye’s back, is it time to give bourbon the boot?

Perfect Manhattan
Makes 1 cocktail
1/2 ounce dry vermouth
1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
2 ounces rye whiskey
2-3 dashes orange or Angostura bitters
Lemon twist
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the vermouths, the rye and the bitters. Stir briskly for 15 seconds and strain into a chilled coup. Flame the lemon twist over the drink and drop it in.

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