When the American whiskey renaissance happened, rye was all but ignored;
most liquor stores only carry ryes that could substitute for
turpentine, stuff that could make even a seasoned whiskey drinker's
esophagus go hide behind his spinal column. Bourbon drinkers who try rye
are often turned off by rye's much harsher, much less sweet flavors and
go fleeing back to their bottle of Woodford Reserve or Bulleit.
Fortunately, as more and more rye makes its way into the liquor stores of America, there are some good gateway ryes, like Templeton and Michter's, to ease the transition. Why be restricted to one great American liquor, after all?
Felicia Chavez, head bartender at Brea's Two 40 South, is trying to introduce people to rye drinks by mixing cocktails with Michter's Rye; her rye sour is the perfect way to make the leap from bourbon. The basic recipe for a sour is just alcohol, citrus juice (here, lemon juice) and simple syrup, but Chavez adds half an ounce of Punt e Mes vermouth, which is quite bitter, to cut the sweetness, and she shakes it with an egg white to create an intensely sweet-sour foam.
What comes out is the perfect gateway to drinking rye whiskey; a bourbon sour made this way would be unappealingly sweet, but the rye is in perfect balance. Order them two at a time–they slip down easy in the inland heat.