April 18, 2013

Bulleit Rye - The Miracle on 84th Street

We know you love listening to us talk. Who could blame you? But the real whiskey experts in a city like New York are the bartenders. They hear us laugh. They watch us cry. They know just the right dram for our victories and defeats, our celebrations and lamentations. So today marks the first installment of our new series: 

Favorite Bartenders' Favorite Beasts

Today's heros are Tristan Colton of the legendary Upper West Side watering hole Prohibition and his hooch of choice: Bulleit Rye.

Ph.D, M.D., J.D., 7th Degree Black Belt, Six Sigma, Gold Medal, Nobel Prize-Winning Mixologist Tristan Colton


Pro is our kind of place.  They have a sexy red pool table in the back next to a private bar, martinis the size of small lakes, exceptional tuna tacos, and free live music every night.  On Fridays and Saturdays they have rock & roll cover bands and the place goes absolutely nuts.  (Don't miss the insanely kick-ass 90's tribute band The Pagers who are playing next Saturday 4/27).  The waitresses and bartenders can't be beat and the scene is laid-back and friendly.  It's a real neighborhood place where you'll make new friends and find yourself turning into a regular.


Tristan keeps a well-chosen head stash of bottles.  His current favorite: Bulleit Small Batch 95 Rye.

In Tristan's own words:

"Rye has only reemerged as a major whiskey contender in the last year or two. It was the country's leading liquor back before the Prohibition days, but then it sort of fell out of popularity to give way to bourbon and scotch. But for whatever reason, rye seems to be the new major trend in whiskey, so I've been having lots of fun drinking it.

I've been a big Bulleit Bourbon fan for years, so I was excited right away when they produced a rye, and it certainly met my expectations.

To be considered a rye, the whiskey has to include 51% of it's major grain. Bulleit Rye is a monster 95% rye, with just a touch of malted barley, which sets it a bit apart from other whiskeys. It's distilled in Indiana, but uses grains from all over and it's aged in charred white oak barrels for up to seven years.

I think what I like most about it is that it's just so well balanced. It has cherry, vanilla, oak, combined with cinnamon, black pepper, leather, and tabacco. You definitely get some sweet floral notes in the aroma, but it gives way to some serious spice, which I love. I usually just sip or even shoot it, but I've also created some great specialty cocktails because it mixes so well. It also makes for a pretty stellar Manhattan or Old Fashioned.

Overall, Bulleit Rye is a delicious whiskey, smooth enough to not be overpowering, but with the perfect gunpowder kick you'd expect from Bulleit."

Tasting Notes

Nose:  Tristan is right on the mark picking up on the strong vanilla and cherry flavors, followed by leather, tobacco, and oak.  

Body:  We get a pleasant bite here, the mellow burn that you expect from a rye.  Then we pick up on some sweet fruity notes.  Peaches?  Tangerines?  The bite is quick and then there's a late smoothness that comes with the fruit.  The butteriness, leather, and florals continue.

Finish:  The fire fades very quickly into a nice finish.  Here is the smoke, like burning wet birch where you can smell the bubbles and crackles of the wood.  Allspice, cloves, and cinnamon.  This is definitely a whiskey drinker's whiskey.  As with most rye it's not for the faint of heart.  But once you develop the taste for it, it's highly addictive.

The Miracle on 84th Street

Intrigued by this talk of specialty cocktails, we persuaded Tristan to mix up his favorite whiskey concoction. Low-and-behold we discovered The Miracle on 84th Street, a sweet and delicious rye cocktail of Tristan's own creation.  

1.5 oz Bulleit Rye
1 oz Pama Pomegranate Liqueur
.5 oz Agave Syrup
.25 oz St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram

Shake all ingredients together over ice.  Strain and serve up.  Top with a sprinkle of cinnamon.  

A miracle it is.  It's both spicy and sweet and would serve equally well as a winter warmer or a refresher on a summer day.  The warmth and smoke of the rye powers up the fruity elements for a result that's tasty by not overly sweet.  Be careful, we could see several of these going down all too easily and going straight to your head.

Thanks to Tristan and the gang at Prohibition.  Be sure to visit if you're in the neighborhood.  Good whiskey, good people, and good music are hard to beat.



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