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best rye for manhattan

any ideas

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  1. It depends on how you want your Manhattan to taste. I actually prefer a Bourbon (or Tennessee Whiskey) Manhattan. If you want to try a more traditional, rye Manhattan, though, here are a few that should do well for a traditional, spicy rye taste:

    Rittenhouse 100
    Wild Turkey 101 Rye
    Sazerac Rye

    If you like something sweeter, you may want to try Old Overholt; for something a bit lighter, but still a traditional rye flavor, Wild Turkey's Russel Reserve


    8 Replies
    1. re: sku

      Old Overholt or Sazerac are my favorite everyday ryes for Manhattans. In a restaurant/bar with no rye (typical) I'll always then call for Seagrams 7, a Canadian blended whiskey with a good portion of rye in it.

      1. re: Up With Olives

        FYI, Seagram's 7 is an American blended whiskey. (Seagram's was a Canadian company, which often causes this confusion).

      2. re: sku

        +1 on the Wild Turkey 101. It's a great rye at a great price, and the higher proof means that it will stand up to a bit more vermouth in the drink (I personally like a 3:1 rye:vermouth ratio).

        By the way, sku, nice blog! I just read through all of your Whiskey Wednesday posts and found them quite enjoyable.

        1. re: sku

          the bonded Rittenhouse, hands down.

          1. re: ted

            I agree with you. While I'll take any rye for my Manhattan, I like Rittenhouse bonded 100 proof. I think it has the most rye character, with more balance than some of the heavy rye super expensive ones. I like to use Antico formula vermouth which in itself can be overpowering, but put it to the Rittenhouse bonded and a miracle occurs, add a few drops of bitters, and nirvana.

            1. re: JMF

              I've been working my way through a bottle of the Russell's Reserve Rye. I like it, but it's hard to justify spending $35 for that over the Rittenhouse, when it's under $20. Fortunately, at least one of my local liquor stores has gotten more in stock after being out for several months.

          2. re: sku

            I like Old Overholt, too. I also like Jim Beam yellow label 100% rye. Both are affordable and make great Manhattan's.

            Don't forget to pay attention to your vermouth, too. I don't use the really cheap stuff, as I feel it affects the flavor as much as a cheap whisky would. I also mix sweet and dry vermouth, since I feel the sweet one is usually TOO sweet by itself.

            My Manhattan recipe is as follows:

            2 parts rye
            1/2 part sweet vermouth
            1/2 part dry vermouth
            3 dashes Angostura bitters
            1 maraschino cherry with a spoonful of juice

            Stir over ice in a rocks glass.

            1. re: ed1066

              dry and sweet vermouth in equal parts is a.....Perfect Manhattan with Rye or a Perfect Rob Roy with Scotch.

          3. I always reach for either Rittenhouse 100 or Van Winkle Family Reserve. Both add the characteristic rye spiciness that I like. I think the Van Winkle is a touch more refined, but that's not always what you're looking for so I have both.

            1. New favorite.

              R(i) 1. That isn't a typo. It is a modern package and typeface that is intended, I think, to look like a phonetic spelling of "rye." And then the "one" is actually on the label as an "exponent."...but that exceeds the capabilities of either (both?) Chowhound boards and I so I just did it with a regular one.

              Anyway, I use Carpano Antico vermouth which eliminates the need for bitters as it is already rather aromatic. This is the most leathal (in a good way) Manhattan I have ever had. You'd never guess it is 92 proof!

              7 Replies
              1. re: ellaystingray

                I've been assuming that this is basically the "Grey Goose" of Rye. What I mean is that someone realized that if they made a catchy label and jacked up the price, people would assume that it was good.

                1. re: jgg13

                  Here here. I took one look at that stuff and the store and thought "great, now they're trying to market rye to tools."

                  1. re: craigasaurus

                    Hey, it may be wonderful. And if it means that more bars will actually carry a rye whisky then I guess that's good. But I couldn't walk up to the register holding that bottle.

                    1. re: Frommtron

                      Just to be clear, I wasn't saying that it was a ripoff/etc - I really don't know. That was just my initial impression when I first read about it, and until I find out that this is demonstrably untrue I'm going to stick to non-flashy rye.

                      1. re: Frommtron

                        (rī)¹ is mediocre and way overpriced. It's very light, like a rye for someone who doesn't really like rye. Given the amount of great ryes out there at reasonable prices, there's no reason to spend for this stuff.


                        1. re: sku

                          The words 'light' and 'rye' shouldn't really go together. Thanks for the report. You're doing God's work, sir.

                  1. I like Michter's Rye for a Manhattan. I'll also use Sazerac to save some money. Wild Turkey 101 is my go to when in a bar that has a poor or non-existent rye selection.

                    1. I'll tell you one NOT to use: Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye, Kentucky Straight 13 year old 47.8%abv/95.6 proof, bottle # I-520.

                      I tried a small Manhattan with it last night and it was a mess. I used Carpano Antica vermouth and The Bitter Truth aromatic bitters, and they actually overwhelmed this almost too old, delicate, floral, smooth rye.

                      This is a beautiful sipping rye, on the rocks, with a small splash of water to cut the proof a bit. I found it half full in storage in my distillery with most of my spirits collection and pulled it out yesterday and brought it home because I had forgotten what it was like. The last half of the bottle is going to be treasured, sip by sip, until I can find another bottle or three.

                      2 Replies
                      1. Overholt is tough to beat on cost. Rittenhouse 100 is also one I like alot. For a bourbon with high rye mash bill I like Four Roses. Agree with davis_sq_pro in that I favor the 3:1 ratio over 2:1.

                        Somewhat on topic is the vermouth that you pair with it. For me, Carpano Antico Formula has too much vanilla. I know it's the go-to vermouth in many bars these days, but I'd rather use Dolin rouge or Cocchi Torino.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: BillB656

                          I actually prefer Old Overholt or Jim Beam rye to Rittenhouse for a Manhattan. Maybe it's just me but I prefer the rounder, gentler flavor of those ryes in this drink. I generally like Rittenhouse better in most other mixed drinks, and certainly prefer it as a sipper, but it seems too sharp and thin to me in a Manhattan.

                        2. How do you order a Manhattan cocktail in a restaurant? Do you just assume they will have the rye/whiskey you are asking for? Do you ask what whiskey's are available? Or do you just order a Manhattan neat or straight up and hope for the best? Thanks for any replies.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: joew99

                            Ask what's available, call out the exact brand you want, and tell the bartender what ratio to use. Unfortunately you often need to remind the bartender to use bitters. And a lot of bartenders will shake rather stir the drink. Sometimes it's not worth the effort, in which case a glass of straight rye will suffice...

                            1. re: joew99

                              How do you order a Manhattan in a restaurant? Honestly, in most restaurants, the answer is, "you don't." Unless the place has a very solid rep in terms of its bar and cocktail program, I always assume that they store the vermouth with the rest of the liquor, and instead of vacu-sealing it, they just screw the cap back on. Furthermore, they likely never check to see if its gone bad, nor write down the date it was opened. Most bars and restaurants treat vermouth like an opened bottle of liquor, and as such, they have terrible vermouth, and thus terrible Manhattans.