Rye whiskey has emerged from bourbon’s shadow in the last decade. Each year, it seems there are dozens of new labels on store shelves to choose from. In the Pacific Northwest, the craft distilling pioneers at Woodinville Whiskey Co. in Woodinville, Washington released their first rye in 2012. This spicier, grassier cousin of bourbon is traditionally the whiskey of choice for Manhattans, Old-Fashioneds and Sazeracs. But, the uses for rye do not end there. It can be surprisingly refreshing when mixed into lighter, more refreshing cocktails.
At The Hollywood Tavern, located adjacent to Woodinville Whiskey Co.’s distillery, they showcase a number of the products from Woodinville Whiskey Co. on the menu for dinner, lunch and even brunch. Originally built as a service station in the 1920s, The Hollywood Tavern was first converted to a tavern in the 1940s. That’s not to say they weren’t in the booze business before then however. According to local lore, orders for illegal hooch could be placed and paid for at the service station during Prohibition. Bottles were stashed in a nearby pond, located on what is now the property for winery JM Cellars.
Woodinville Whiskey was founded in 2009 by Orlin Sorensen and Brett Carlile in a nondescript warehouse located just down the road from the current location. Their earliest releases were their Peabody Jones vodka and an unaged white whiskey. Woodinville Whiskey released their first aged whiskey in 2011 and their first rye in 2012, the first rye to be produced in the state since Prohibition.
David Scherling, the general manager at The Hollywood Tavern, says the most popular cocktail they offer using their neighbor’s whiskey is the Oil Change. It’s a variation on a classic Manhattan, mixing Woodinville Whiskey rye with Meletti amaro and root beer bitters. Another favorite is the Bluegrass Cobbler. It combines Woodinville Whiskey rye with maraschino liqueur, orange juice, and lemon juice.
“The reason I love that drink is, whether it’s warm outside or cold, that drink works,” Scherling says. “It softens up the whiskey just enough to make it an easy sipper.” It’s worth noting that The Hollywood Tavern is still a popular “filling station” for cyclists passing by on the nearby Sammamish River Trail. Their outdoor patio is also equipped with a fire pit for cooler temperatures. It’s not hard to imagine sipping on this refreshing drink cozied up by a roaring fire.
Scherling says they also use the rye for making a couple different infusions. “We take honey and maple, some cinnamon and cloves and infuse the bourbon. For the rye we use a smoked peppercorn and coriander,” Scherling says. “Both are infused about three weeks, during which time we turn the bottles a few times. Then we strain it and it’s ready to use.”
These whiskey infusions are available on the menu as a shot paired with locally-produced beers.
Bluegrass Cobbler, courtesy of The Hollywood Tavern
1 ½ ounces Woodinville Whiskey Co. rye whiskey
¾ ounce Maraschino liqueur
¼ ounce fresh squeezed orange juice
¼ ounce fresh squeezed lemon juice
Splash of pineapple juice
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake until chilled. Strain into an ice-filled low ball glass. Splash pineapple juice and garnish with an orange wedge.