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Rye Whiskey Illustration

Rye whiskey is one of the most important spirits in American distilling. After all, it’s the main ingredient of the Sazerac Cocktail. But the path to becoming an iconic spirit wasn’t always as smooth as the drink itself. From its immigrant roots to the booming whiskey industry we know today, see how the story of rye whiskey is so much like the story of America.

Whiskey Comes to America

The first whiskey distilling operations in America are often credited to Pennsylvania and Maryland. After the American Revolution, rum quantities drastically dropped. But Scottish and Irish immigrants quenched the peoples’ thirst with whiskey. The only problem? The climate wasn’t just right for the Irish whiskey they were used to making. Luckily, the new rye whiskey was a more than adequate substitute.

Soon enough, rye whiskey was an American favorite and production ramped up by the early 1800s. Pennsylvania produced and shipped 6.5 million gallons of rye in the year 1810 alone, which was nearly three times more than Kentucky bourbon that same year. Even George Washington got into the rye whiskey distilling game after his presidency. It doesn’t get much more American than that.

Cocktails like the Manhattan, Old Fashioned and of course the Sazerac made whiskey more popular than ever. Until it wasn’t.

Last Call for Whiskey

Prohibition put a stop to the rye whiskey production practically overnight. That, along with world wars bookending the halt of production, rye had a long road to go to get back into America’s good spirits.

Just when production started ramping back up again, Americans turned their taste to other drinks. Vodka, gin, bourbon and scotch became more popular. Rye whiskey got a bottom-shelf reputation while other options were deemed classier or more refined. Once an American staple in the most iconic cocktails and bars, rye was on its last legs.

Rye, Rye and Rye Again

Just like America itself, there was no keeping rye down. Cocktails began to boom in popularity again and with them, rye whiskey was back in the glasses—and good favors—of bar patrons. While rye whiskey still isn’t as popular as other whiskey options, distillers are making more and more of it every year. And the people are drinking it up.

Now, we’re making our own Sazerac Rye in the Sazerac House. You can see the distilling process and learn all about it on your next tour.

After years of ups and downs, rye whiskey is back and better than ever. And it’s not going away any time soon.

 

Here are a few of our favorite
Rye Whiskey Cocktail Recipes


Sazerac Cocktail Recipe


LA LOUISIANE Recipe


VIEUX CARRE Recipe




Events


Drink & Learn: A Punch Perfect Summer

Friday, June 14, 2024
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm

Join us for an exciting evening of cocktail exploration as we dive into the art of batched cocktails, perfectly suited for summer gatherings. Local drinks Historian Elizabeth Pearce will lead this elevated experience. Participants will enjoy four iconic cocktails as they discover the secrets behind balancing flavors, selecting quality ingredients, and mastering the art of batching cocktails for entertaining. $45 per person. All guests must be 21 to participate. Guided Sazerac product tasting. Approximately 90 minutes. 45 people maximum capacity

Elevated Sazerac Cocktail Tasting

Sunday, June 23, 2024
1:00 pm - 2:30 pm

June 23rd is named Sazerac Cocktail Day for a reason! Join us as we explore the evolution of New Orleans’ official cocktail: The Sazerac! This is an elevated, boozier version of our daily tasting class which featuring Sazerac products: Cognac de Forge, Sazerac Rye Whiskey, Peychaud’s Bitters, and Herbsaint Liqueur. $45 per person. Approximately 75 minutes.

Sazerac Cocktail Day! House Tour

Sunday, June 23, 2024
11:00 am - 4:30 pm

The Sazerac House Tour will be transformed for this one-day-only experience! Join us in celebration on June 23rd, the day in 2008 when the Sazerac Cocktail was named the official cocktail of New Orleans by the Louisiana State Legislature. Guests of the Sazerac House will experience an elevated museum experience which includes amplified tastings and storytelling of the spirits that make the Sazerac Cocktail so special!  Peychaud’s Bitters and Peychaud’s Aperitivo Spritz Samples in Peychaud’s Apothecary  High end Sazerac de Forge Cognac sampling  Specialty Herbsaint cocktail  Sazerac Rye Whiskey sampling (our in-house distilled spirit!)  The Perfect Sazerac Cocktail Guests must be 21 and over to enjoy the samples. Tickets are $10 per person. Guests under 21 or not wishing to drink may purchase a free ticket to enjoy the museum and storytelling.

Sazerac Cocktail Day! House Tour + Speakeasy Access

Sunday, June 23, 2024
11:00 am - 4:15 pm

This ticket type includes the full Sazerac Cocktail Day experience PLUS access to the beautiful Charente Speakeasy Tasting Room to relax and enjoy a full-sized Sazerac Cocktail featuring Cognac de Forge. The Sazerac House Tour will be transformed for this one-day-only experience! Join us in celebration on June 23rd, the day in 2008 when the Sazerac Cocktail was named the official cocktail of New Orleans by the Louisiana State Legislature. Guests of the Sazerac House will experience an elevated museum experience which includes amplified tastings and storytelling of the spirits that make the Sazerac Cocktail so special!  Peychaud’s Bitters and Peychaud’s Aperitivo Spritz Samples in Peychaud’s Apothecary  High end Sazerac de Forge Cognac sampling  Specialty Herbsaint cocktail  Sazerac Rye Whiskey sampling (our in-house distilled spirit!)  The Perfect Sazerac Cocktail Guests must be 21 and over to enjoy the samples. Guests under 21, or those not wishing to drink, may purchase a free ticket to enjoy the museum and storytelling.