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September 24, 2009

Shot of rye

Filed under: American Food,Spirits — Mr. Henry @ 11:09 am


Like a hero of the old west or an executive on Madison Avenue, these days Mr. Henry reaches for a shot of rye. He drinks rye on the rocks before dinner, rye on the rocks with a little water for Chinese food, and rye in a snifter after dinner. Having explored its qualities in the glass, he is moving on to explore its qualities as a flavor additive.

This morning he flavored french toast with rye. That is, he put a tablespoon of Hudson Valley Manhattan rye whiskey in the egg and milk batter. The flavor was subtly aromatic and perfectly delightful, better than his usual zest of lemon, far better than a splash of vanilla.

Caramel in color and flavor, a carefully distilled rye whiskey resonates with elegant overtones of vanilla and berries. A liberal pour over vanilla ice cream is terrific. The recipe for tiramisu calls for a shot of spirits. There, too, rye is an excellent choice.george_washington_1772.jpg

Anywhere you might use vanilla or molasses, think instead of rye. Brush it over the top of your pie crust before baking. (This was Mr. Henry’s French step-grandmother’s secret to flaky crust.) Add a splash to cornbread or Boston baked beans.

Rye is the quintessential American whiskey. George Washington not only drank it, he distilled it, too.


  1. I had no idea! I will try it. Thank you for once again expanding my horizons ,y dear Mr. Henry.

    Comment by Jennie — September 25, 2009 @ 8:24 pm

  2. or you could put an equal amount of sweet vermouth in a shaker with some ice, swirl it around a bit and dump it, lovingly, into a chilled glass with a couple of maraschino cherries. THAT would be sublime.

    Comment by Pixie — September 27, 2009 @ 3:51 pm

  3. Having just bought some (non-alcoholic) apple cider at an orchard on Sunday, I was thinking about using it to make a weaker version of a Johnny Jump-Up. Normally a Johnny Jump-Up is a shot of whiskey (traditionally, Jameson’s) poured into a pint of hard cider. (Yes, I know it’s only us Americans who specify “hard” cider; everywhere else it’s just cider.) My original plan was to add a shot of Jameson’s to a glass of the newly-purchased cider, but maybe now I’ll try rye instead. *ponders*

    Comment by Chicklet — September 29, 2009 @ 8:07 am

  4. Dear Chicklet,

    Like all Irish whiskey, Jameson’s is a rye whiskey.

    A Johnny Jump-Up sounds exactly like something the Founding Fathers would have drunk after a hard day of arguing over the establishment clause, except they would probably have prepared it hot.

    Comment by Mr. Henry — September 29, 2009 @ 12:13 pm

  5. Oh my dear heavens! Someone who loves the rye as much as I! Long ago when I started legally drinking, I drank frooty cocktails that didn’t taste like booze. From there I went near beer, and after many pitchers, couldn’t abide the burpiness. Then I fancied myself a wine-person, but got too sleepy when imbibing. Finally I’ve rested on rye whiskey. Scotch is too heavy and bourbon too harsh. I can drink several rye cocktails of an evening and still be on my feet. Rye is the drink for me.

    Comment by jelodi97 — September 29, 2009 @ 1:29 pm

  6. I swear I used to know that Irish whiskey is made from rye. Maybe I drank too much of it and lost the knowledge permanently.

    Comment by Chicklet — September 29, 2009 @ 4:08 pm

  7. That happens to Mr. Henry about once every six months. It’s a sign of good character and righteous living.

    Comment by Mr. Henry — September 29, 2009 @ 7:00 pm

  8. Have you tried Templeton Rye? Iowa’s own prohibition-surviving rye.

    Comment by g-dog — September 29, 2009 @ 7:02 pm

  9. I think I must have had rye at some time, because I have had some of those cocktails, but I wasn’t aware of it when it happened. I’d like to experiment, because it seems so very American, but although I can get Jim Beam and Wild Turkey bourbons at my supermarket, I have never seen rye whisky.

    Nice image of Don Draper, Emperor of the Whole Damned World, and the very image of the men I knew in my youth. One hopes that if you are aiming at this image you stop at the superficial, because I can guarantee Mrs. Henry won’t stay long with the real man of the Sixties.

    Comment by Judith in Umbria — October 5, 2009 @ 1:07 am

  10. Quite true, Judith. Mrs. Henry would toss “the real man of the Sixties” straightaway off the high balcony. And Little Henry would help the toss.

    Try some good old Irish whiskey which is principally rye. Surely you can get Jameson or Bushmills in Umbria, either of which are quite delicious, especially the Bushmills 10-year.

    Comment by Mr. Henry — October 6, 2009 @ 3:45 pm

  11. Irish? The stuff comes out of the faucets, almost.

    Comment by Judith in Umbria — October 11, 2009 @ 4:10 am

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