Red Eye Rye. Well, this Tennessee-made bottle is quite the unique spirit – a blend of Kentucky rye whiskey (95% rye, 5% malted barley) with South American-grown arabica coffee, gently balanced with sugar and bottled at a full 40% ABV. It’s described as a combination between a whiskey, amaro, flavored spirit, and liqueur, and that really fits this perfectly. It’s like the ‘amaro’ of the Americas – pure American whiskey at its core, but layered with bittersweet complexity from the strong coffee and cane sugar. (If you’re not familiar, Amaro is a category of bittersweet, often herbal or earthy, Italian liqueur that is commonly sipped as a digestive aid after meals).
The idea for this bittersweet whiskey liqueur of sorts was conceived behind the bar in Nashville back in 2013. Originally served as a custom-made “bartender’s handshake,” it’s now available in an array of restaurants/shops in Tennessee, so keep an eye out for a taste next time you’re in the area!
For anyone who’s not in the bar industry and unfamiliar with the term, the “bartender’s handshake” is a common hospitality practice between bartenders and industry folks (and sometimes lucky loyal guests) to share a shot upon arrival or before departure as a form of camaraderie. Fernet Branca is a common choice, but places often have their own traditions. What’s the most interesting “bartender’s handshake” shot you’ve had or served?