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bourbon – rye

My favorite category, cocktails that rely on American bourbon and rye for backbone.

Whiskey and Barspoons: the Brainstorm Cocktail

There is a tongue-in-cheek reference to something called a Brainstorm Cocktail in a 1906 issue of a trade magazine called “The Northwest Druggist”:

The “brainstorm” cocktail is the latest. It consists mainly of cracked ice set aside to thaw.

Druggist humor, I guess.

The real Brainstorm Cocktail came along about ten years later; it’s one of Hugo Ensslin’s pre-Prohibition classics, first published in his Recipes for Mixed Drinks (1916).

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Whiskey Sours and Embittered Last Words: the Paper Plane Cocktail

The first cocktail I learned to make was the Whiskey Sour. I made it with Scotch, which was a very poor choice, but I was just out of college and didn’t know better. It’s gratifying to discover, in retrospect, that even then I had enough wits about me to think that tinkering with the mix might lead to a worthwhile improvement in flavor. It took forever to realize that the problem was the Scotch. Well, it was too much lemon, too, but at least I finally figured it out.

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Hair of the Dog: the Morning Glory Cocktail

Hangovers have been around forever, so it’s not surprising that one of the most popular branches of amateur medicine is the hangover “cure.”

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Dark Horse: The Preakness Cocktail

I’ve never been a follower of American horse racing, but I do enjoy the hype and pageantry of the three-race set known as the “Triple Crown” — in the US, it’s the Kentucky Derby,  the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes.

The Kentucky Derby falls near my birthday, so for decades my birthday partly has been a Derby-watching event, replete with fancy outfits, good hats and, especially, whiskey juleps. The Mint Julep is the universally accepted symbol of the Derby, and the Run for the Roses starts the ice-crushing the season right.

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Another Round of Whiskey Sours: the Ward 8 Cocktail

As the saying goes, “myth and legend are the kudzu of history,” and cocktail history is as much overgrown as any.

Today’s case in point: the pre-Prohibition Ward 8 Cocktail, one of the most famous of classic whiskey sour variations.

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The Diamondback Cocktail

You could think of the Diamondback cocktail as an Old-Fashioned on steroids.

Or at least, that’s what it’s evolving into. It didn’t really start that way.

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Another Old-Fashioned the hard way: the Conference Cocktail

I learned two important things when I first encountered the Saratoga cocktail. For starters, I discovered that I like the Saratoga even more than I like the Manhattan—and that’s saying something.

But more significantly, I discovered that rye whiskey and brandy go astonishingly well together.

And the knowledge of that happy combination led to delight when I came across Brian Miller’s riff on the Old-Fashioned, the Conference cocktail.

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Short and evil: the Devil’s Soul cocktail

Gaz Regan first published Ted Kilgore’s Devil’s Soul cocktail in 101 Best New Cocktails 2012. As Regan says, it combines “ingredients that absolutely positively do not belong in the same glass,” yet somehow they work together to form a complex and sophisticated success.

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Scions of the Boulevardier: the 1795 Cocktail

The 1795 Cocktail is one of the Negroni’s modern descendants, from the whiskey-based Boulevardier side of the family.

More specifically, it’s a direct riff on the Boulevardier’s rye whiskey variant, Dominic Venegas’s 1794 Cocktail.

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