Rye Whiskey Cocktails

Rye whiskey is an American spirit with a history as old as the United States. In fact, the Father of our Country built a distillery at Mount Vernon in 1798; by 1799, the year George Washington died, it produced nearly 11,000 gallons of whiskey distilled from a mix of barley, corn and rye. More than two centuries later, rye is still embraced by distillers and imbibers alike, and sprouting up on Maui in cocktails with tropical fruit and syrups.


Upcountry-Buck-Kaana-KitchenUpcountry Buck

Courtesy of Andaz Maui’s Ka‘ana Kitchen | Yield: 1 cocktail

  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • 3/4 oz. ginger syrup
  • 3/4 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. fresh pineapple juice
  • 2 oz. Bulleit Rye Whiskey
  • 1 oz. club soda
  • lime wheel & ginger candy, to garnish

Pour first 5 ingredients into a cocktail shaker, add ice, shake and strain over fresh ice. Add club soda. Garnish with a piece of ginger candy and lime wheel.

Julie Reiner [Andaz Maui’s beverage director] created the Upcountry Buck especially for us, both to pay homage to the classic buck category of drinks [which, like mules, contain ginger beer, fruit juice, and a base liquor], and to showcase our bountiful tropical surroundings. Our strong, house-made Hawaiian ginger syrup pairs beautifully and holds its own against the spicy rye whiskey. The freshly squeezed lime and pineapple juice give the classic buck a Hawaiian twist, while a dash of Angostura bitters adds balance and body to the cocktail. — Lehua Verkerke, mixologist, Ka‘ana Kitchen at Andaz Maui

Taverna-Million-Dollar-HighwayMillion Dollar Highway

Courtesy of Taverna | Yield: 1 cocktail

  • 1 Kula strawberry, muddled in shaker
  • 1/2 oz. rosemary syrup
  • 1/2 oz. egg white
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 oz. Bulleit rye whiskey

In a cocktail shaker, shake first six ingredients with ice. Add club soda, then double strain directly into the absinthe-rinsed coupe glass. (Learn how at MauiMagazine.net/rye-whiskey-cocktails.) Gently add drops of Angostura to top of cocktail and drag a toothpick through it to create hearts. Float a whole star anise to garnish.

At Taverna, we wanted to create a drink whose rye flavor was more background than aggressive. The rosemary, Cynar (artichoke liqueur) and rye whiskey all play really nicely together. The Million Dollar Highway also showcases herbs and fruits of the islands. It is a slightly more feminine libation, but is still rich, smooth and vegetal. The name is a nod to my native region of southwestern Colorado, where the mountain passes provide breathtaking views. — Tara Fontaine, beverage manager, Taverna


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