Use rye in drinks as you would bourbon. Waxing rhapsodic on the contribution of American spirits to the world, Bernard DeVoto, in The Hour, declared: “We have improved man’s lot and enriched civilization with rye, bourbon, and the Martini cocktail.” The Doors had a hit single with the Brecht-Weill “Alabama Song”: “If we don’t find the next whiskey bar, I tell you we must die.” We know the whiskey was rye, because the line was inspired by the historian Arnold Toynbee, who said, “If I don’t get rye whiskey, I surely will die.” George Washington turned one of his failing farms into a bustling rye whiskey business.
Straight or blended, in the 19th century rye was the essential drink and building block of most cocktails, but most people have never tasted it, nor do they even know what it really is, often mistaking Canadian Club for rye. Scotch began replacing rye in the 1930s, and after the repeal of Prohibition, rye all but vanished. Until fairly recently, only a few distilleries still produced it, but this is changing.