The Blinker

From Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails

2 oz Rittenhouse Rye
1 oz Grapefruit Juice
1 tsp Raspberry Syrup

Add all ingredients to a mixing glass.
Shake with large ice and strain.
Garnish with a lemon twist.

* * *

Rye whiskey is for patriots.  At least, that’s the claim over at Rye Patriotism, a blog covering all things Rye, and they have a point.  Blockades during the Revolutionary War meant that the first citizens of the USA lost access to rums, cognacs, and wines from across the sea.  Bourbon, meanwhile, was still in its infancy.  That meant that anyone who needed a drink — and there was a war on, so everyone needed a drink — began to turn, more and more, to the locally distilled stuff, which was chiefly made from apples or grain.  New Jersey gave us Apple Brandy, of which George Washington was a fan; Pennsylvania, the seat of Independence, gave us Rye.

Maybe it’s because Washington liked Apple Brandy so much that he put the effort into suppressing the Whiskey Rebellion, during which Pennsylvania farmers refused to pay an excise tax on their distillates.  Or maybe, it was just that the new federal government needed to show that it could get the job done.  Whatever the reason, the Rebellion cemented Pennsylvania’s reputation for its Rye. Even though our Rittenhouse is made by Heaven Hill, a large Bourbon manufacturer, the name itself is a distinct reference to the state of virtue, liberty, and independence.

Ted Haigh tells us that the Blinker — another term for the blinders put on horses — comes from one Patrick Gavin Duffy’s The Official Mixer’s Manual of 1934, which makes it most likely a Prohibition drink.  During that time, a lot of what was called Rye wasn’t — it was Canadian whiskey with a low rye content.  To me, that makes this drink, with its real, American bottled-in-bond Rye, something from an earlier time.  It’s powerful but not the brute that you might think.  Rather than sweetening up the mix, the raspberry syrup really just takes the edge off of both the whiskey and the grapefruit.  The combination is a treat.

There’s no denying that the Blinker, one of Haigh’s favorite drinks, is a true American drink.  It’s straightforward and strong but just.  And, it certainly has my allegiance.

For the Raspberry Syrup: See and try the Japalac.

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3 Responses to “The Blinker”

  1. Dominic
    July 8, 2011 at 8:17 pm #

    As I’ve mentioned, I have an old copy of PDG’s “The Standard Bartender’s Guide”. That one is a much lighter drink, with 1 part rye to 1&1/2 part grapefruit juice, and grenadine in place of the raspberry syrup.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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