In case you can’t tell, I like to write about whiskey almost as much as I like drinking it. Some posts just write themselves. And then there are the REALLY great ones – and there’s nothing better than pairing whiskey with music. Some of these songs make me forget all about the whiskey, which is no small feat. There’s a reason that music has been played where people are drinking whiskey, for probably as long as both have existed – they just go together. Feeling like tears in your beer? Screw that, have some rock and rye. Wanna crowdsurf? Rock and rye will see you through (and will be waiting for you, if you get dropped on your head). Feel like dancing til all the sounds and colors blend together? Rock and rye’s got you.

A little rye education: like Bourbon, there are requirements to be called “rye whiskey”. It’s got to be at least 51% rye, distilled at no more than 160 proof (80% ABV) and aged in new oak barrels. You’ll see some whiskies are closer to 100% rye (lots of Canadian whisky), while some are mainly Bourbon (corn) with a high rye content. I find it’s very much about the mood I’m in: do I want to drink it neat? Maybe something with a little less bite. Do I feel like mixing it? Maybe something with an edge, so it doesn’t get lost in the cocktail. It’s all up to you. A good bartender will be able to steer you in the right direction, if you want to try something new. Just ask!

One last note before we get to the music: I can’t call this Rock & Rye without giving the “official” cocktail a nod. Made with citrus flavors and rock candy of all things, Rock & Rye is seeing a modern update. Check out the Rock& Rye cocktail from Imbibe or stop by NY Distilling Company to get Mr. Katz’s Rock and Rye.

Here’s what I think you should be drinking when you listen to these tracks – cheers!

Lucero – I’ll just fall

Melancholy – with the right amount of grit – his voice makes you want to listen longer, just like a good whiskey will make you want to have another sip. It’s not a song about a guy looking for pity, he’s just giving you the facts. I think that fits with Rittenhouse Rye – an unapologetic, 100 proof rye whiskey with just enough bite to make you want more. Careful though – I did say 100 proof, right?

Whiskey Bitches – Money Gone Drinking

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I’ve been listening to bands like Whiskey Bitches for well…let’s just say awhile (Ramones and Sex Pistols anyone?). And I keep coming back to that sound: punk, with enough actual singing you know she’s got a voice, but she chooses to sometimes shout at you. Awesome. And to keep you from crying, “Where the fuck did all the money go?”, pair this song with Bulleit Rye. It’s got the same unfinished edges as her voice – where’s the fun when everything is perfect and polished?

The Yells – Mustard

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I think The Yells are 80s pop reminiscent, with enough electronic dissonance to keep it from being too sugary sweet. His voice is great, though it’s almost lost in the music sometimes. Like a good rye, his voice has a little sweet, a little bite. I’d say George Dickel Rye Whisky is the one you’re looking for. I like all of Dickel’s whiskys (No. 1 has proved to be extremely versatile), but since this is rock & rye, let’s stick with the theme, shall we?

Walking Shapes – Elle Deadsex or Keep

Both songs start with that insistent, driving beat, just like a good rye whiskey. His voice blends with the music, but not too much. The pure urgency of his voice, the slides and spikes, fit with rye whiskey – melodic combined with sharp edges. I think Templeton Rye is a good choice while you’re listening to Walking Shapes. Each of his tracks are a little bit different and rye whiskey can be just as versatile, depending on what you do with it. I prefer Templeton mixed in a simple cocktail, like a Manhattan. It’s just enough rye that it’s not just “whiskey” in the drink, but not so much it overpowers the flavor profile.

Article by: Jeanne Runkle

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