It's Rye Time - Everything you need to know about Bourbon's cooler cousin.

It's Rye Time - Everything you need to know about Bourbon's cooler cousin.

Way back in the day, rye whiskey was the spirit of choice for American men. George Washington distilled it at Mount Vernon and by the time of his death in 1799, he was producing 11,000 gallons a year. Then it all but disappeared after Prohibition. Bourbon became the brown liquor most likely to be found clinking in your rocks glass. But they're both whiskey, so what's the difference?

A rye whiskey must contain a "mash bill" that is at least 51 percent rye (bourbon's mash is more corn-based) and aged in charred new oak barrels. The rye grain, once considered a weed, adds a certain spiciness, just like in bread. The resulting liquor is typically bolder and more potent than bourbon, which may be why bartenders are pouring more and more of it these days. The depth and character makes rye an ideal match for classic cocktails or, of course, drinking neat.

Here are a few drinks to consider along with bottles worth adding to your home bar for your own rye renaissance.

Manhattan

Rye is the perfect bracing pairing for the distinct herbal flavorings of sweet vermouth and the bite of Angostura bitters.

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The Sazerac

Known as one of the world's oldest cocktails, this Absinthe-tinged tipple was basically an elixir concocted by a New Orleans pharmacist.

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Old Pal

A sidestep from the popular negroni, this deliciously bracing drink blends Campari's sharp citrus flavor with rye's signature spice.

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