We learned the importance of specifying your brand of liquor when we merely texted “rye” on a grocery list recently. Though we enjoyed our ham sandwich very much, it was not a perfect substitute for the after-work cocktail we craved.
In the case of our ryes, though, it is best to have some flexibility about brand. At any given time, either of our ryes around $20 can be out of stock. For example, right now we’re out of the Rittenhouse and there’s no more in NY warehouses (for the moment). And the article in this morning’s New York Times praising both of our ryes as value spirits isn’t going to help matters much.
Thankfully we currently have the Old Overholt in stock as a back-up. Slightly drier to the Rittenhouse’s more sweet, raisiny flavor, the Overholt is only 80 proof and the Rittenhouse is 100 proof. Both have the hallmark spiciness of rye and lack the wood and peat notes you’ll get in some scotch.
Both of our ryes make great drinks – Manhattans and Brooklyn Cocktails are the obvious but they also make a mean Whiskey Sour. Rye is also the secret ingredient in our favorite banana bread recipe. A great way to have your rye and eat it, too.
Time Out New York recently picked some must-haves if you’ve got a shrinking liquor budget. At the top of the list as substitutes for scotch and bourbon were two of our ryes – Old Overholt and Rittenhouse. Both of these spirits are technically whiskeys made from rye grain.
Of the two, the Old Overholt is slightly drier to the Rittenhouse’s more sweet, raisiny flavor, though the Overholt is only 80 proof and the Rittenhouse is 100 proof and “bottled in bond”. Both have the hallmark spiciness of rye and lack the wood and peat notes you’ll get in some scotch.
Warning! This is not rye bread as in ham on rye. Finding ourselves with a banner crop of brown bananas, we whipped up a loaf of banana bread made with Rittenhouse Rye Whiskey. We served it as a dessert with a dollop of homemade whipped cream.
½ cup raisins or other dried fruit (dried apples, currants, etc.)
6 tablespoons or 3 ounces Rittenhouse Rye (you can also use bourbon or dark rum)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsalted butter, melted
½ cup sugar
2 large eggs
4 small, very ripe bananas, mashed (approx 2 cups mashed bananas total)
¼ cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Butter and flour a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Put the dried fruit and Rittenhouse Rye (or your chosen liquor) in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover, and leave for an hour or until the fruit has absorbed most of the liquid. Drain fruit and set aside. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Put the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium-sized bowl and combine well. In a separate large bowl, blend the melted butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then the mashed bananas. Then stir in the walnuts, drained raisins, and vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture, a third at a time, stirring well after each addition. Scrape into the loaf pan and bake in the middle of the oven for 1-1¼ hours. Use the “toothpick test” (insert a toothpick into the center and when it comes out clean, the bread is done). Leave on a rack to cool then run a knife around the inside perimeter of the pan, invert the pan and your banana bread should come out ready to slice and serve.