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(orginally published on on October 12, 2012)

Classic drinks such as Whiskey Sours, Manhattans and Old Fashioneds are making a resurgence. Historically these drinks were made with rye whiskeys instead of bourbon, which is what most Southerners grew up with.

At a recent event sponsored by Knob Creek, several Houston mixologists poured their spins on these traditional whiskey drinks. Among them was a spicy and boozy concoction created by Luis Villegas, of El Gran Malo and Grand Prize Bar called “Spice 6.” Houston Farris’ of Hotel Icon whipped up something akin to barbecue in a glass. His “Smith Country Scofflaw” had a boozy kick and would complement nicely a pulled pork sandwich.

Evan Turner, who currently is behind the bar at 1252 Tapas- Uptown Park, explained that it was the public’s increased interest in classic cocktails has led to uptick in the demand for the almost extinct rye whiskeys. Turner said that after prohibition rye whiskey, which was predominantly produced in the North, almost disappeared. At the same time bourbon continued to be produced in the South.

Rye whiskey, which is produced from a 51 percent rye grain mash differs in taste from bourbon, which is made with corn mash. Rye is considered dryer and bourdon sweeter.

Turner’s creation for the event, which celebrated Houston’s introduction to the small batch Knob Creek Rye Whiskey, was a take on a Manhattan called “Johnny Reb.”

Here are some of the recipes I picked up at the event:

Flapper’s Delight
From Matt Tanner, Anvil Bar & Refuge
1.5 ounces Knob Creek Rye Whiskey
1 ounce Chocolate Syrup
.5 tsp. of acid phosphate
Pinch of salt
6 ounces Soda
Shake all ingredients, top with soda

Johnny Reb
From Evan Turner, 1252 Tapas- Uptown Park
2 ounces Knob Creek Rye Whiskey
1 ounce Mathilde Peach
2 dashes Orange Bitters
2 dashes Peychaud Bitters
1 bar spoon Texas Orange Liquor
Garnish: lemon twist
Stir, strain, serve straight up.

Smith County Scofflaw
From Houston Farris, Hotel Icon:
1 ounce Knob Creek Rye Whiskey
1 ounce dry vermouth
1 ounce grenadine
,25 ounce fresh squeezed lemon juice
,25 ounce sweet and slightly spicy BBQ sauce
1 dash orange bitters
Garnish: Lemon twist
Shake ingredients on cubed ice. Strain into a rocks glass with no ice.

The Old Rat Pack
From: Andrew Chapa, The Eighteenth Cocktail Bar
2 ounces Knob Creek Rye Whiskey
.75 ounce Antica Formula Carpano
1 ounce TruJasmine liqueur
Angostura bitters
Garnish: horse neck coin/orange peel
Stir or aureate the ingredients and serve straight up.

Kentucky Sour
From: Trey Callahan, Coppa Ristorante :
2 ounces Knob Creek Rye Whiskey
,25 ounce Benedictine
,5 ounce fresh squeezed orange juice
,5 ounce fresh squeezed lemon juice
,5 ounce rhubarb syrup
Couple dashes of angostura bitters
Garnish: orange wheel.
Shake all ingredients hard for a 10 count. Strain over ice.

Spice 6
From Luis Villegas, El Gran Malo and Grand Prize Bar
1.5 ounces Knob Creek Rye Whiskey
¾ ounce Aperol liquor
.5 ounce Five spice syrup
3 dashes of Peychauds bitters
Garnish: cinnamon stick
Shake rye, Aperol and the syrup, strain into a Collins glass and add crushed ice top with bitters.


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