Tawky Tawny

Yesterday morning, Jen was catching up on her blog reading and asked me, “Have you ever heard of the Ruby Rye cocktail?” I said No, and she said one of the food bloggers she reads had a drink by that name at Gramercy Tavern or someplace. All the blogger said was that the drink had port. I googled and found next to nothing. But a drink called Ruby Rye has to also have rye in it, I’d hope, so I decided to wing it.

I have a couple of bottles of Sandeman’s port that I received last month for review. I didn’t mix with them at first because I wanted to sample them on their own. Jen and I always like to have port on hand for Christmas and New Year’s, and so the arrival of the Sandeman’s was very timely.

Anyway, I didn’t get anything together in time for the Sandeman chat at Thursday Drink Night, but I wanted to mix with it, and this was a good excuse. I figured I’d make it easy on myself, because I am at heart a lazy bastard. So I went with a Manhattan variation, swapping out the port for the vermouth. It’s tasty, although I think a spicier rye might be better in it. (I used Old Overholt.)

AnonycocktailIt’s a simple recipe, and although I haven’t named it, I’ll give it to you here anyway.

The Cocktail with No Name

  • 2 oz. rye whiskey (I used Overholt)
  • 1 oz. port (Sandeman Founders Reserve)
  • 2 dashes orange bitters (Angostura)
  • Lemon twist, for garnish (I left that out, but I think it’s the way to go)

Technique: Stir briskly over cracked ice. Strain into chilled cocktail glass. Add garnish.

As if it matters, this photo’s actually my own. I figured I’d take a crack at the pretty picture-taking myself for once.


9 thoughts on “Tawky Tawny

  1. So we’re soon to seek the Ruby Rye out again and I’m Googling to see if anyone has posted the recipe for it in the year since I became obsessed with it and the only related result I can find is this. It was me, right? I’m obsessed, though my obsession was derailed by a 9-month pregnancy. Inconvenient!

    But I know port is wrong, and hope I hadn’t misled. It had Rittenhouse or Hudson Rye (I feel like they said Rittenhouse when I asked, but Hudson would make more sense for a New York institution with a local bent, right?), Campari, grapefruit juice, bitters and maybe simple syrup in it. I will get the recipe if it is the last thing I do this year. Actually, it might be.


    • Deb, did you see this?


      “I had a very similar cocktail at Gramercy Tavern called a Ruby Rye.

      I don’t have the exact proportions with me right now, but the bartender did write the recipe down for me.

      It was made with Rittenhouse rye, Campari, ruby grapefruit juice, simple syrup, and bitters. It was fabulous, but I really like your idea of using the St. Germain instead of the simple syrup. I’ll post the exact recipe if you want.
      St. Germain is my new favorite, but it sure is dangerous!”

      Makes sense that it would use ruby grapefruit juice instead of port. Sounds like a tasty drink! I’d make it here, but Jen’s allergic to grapefruit. I don’t think it would be difficult to find the right balance of flavor with these ingredients, so it might be worth playing with.


  2. I’m late to this rye-port combo, but the idea appealed to me and then I found this. What I thought was needed was a touch more bitterness than just the orange bitters to balance the sweetness of the port, and I discovered that a couple of barspoons (1/4 to 1/2 oz) of Cynar did the trick. It gave a nice backbone to the drink, and the spicy rye and voluptuous port hang well with it.


  3. Okay, I like the ruby grapefruit take but I, too, am allergic to grapefruit. However, I have a cocktail that I made up long ago (I just call it a Manhattan, but “my way”) and I think you’d like it. Let me know:

    2 oz 100-proof rye. Don’t go cheap here; you need the alcohol to offsett the dilution of the other ingredients. Rittenhouse is great. James Pepper 1776 is just as great, and much less costly.

    1 oz Port. Ruby, of course. Don’t worry, there’s plenty of oak tannins in the rye.

    1 oz Lillet Blanc. You can use dry Vermouth, but it won’t be the same at all.

    4 dashes of Angostura bitters

    Stir (for God’s sake, don’t shake) with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
    Garnish with a cherry and a strip of lemon zest.


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