What Cocktail Uses Old Overholt: Classic Drinks with a Rye Whiskey Twist

  • By: BT Staff
  • Date: January 20, 2024
  • Time to read: 6 min.

Old Overholt Rye Whiskey is an iconic American spirit with a rich history and a storied past, often celebrated for its versatility and spice-forward flavour profile, which lends itself well to various cocktails. Renowned for its bold flavour, Old Overholt has been a staple in bars for over a century and is a preferred choice for mixologists and whiskey enthusiasts alike. The whiskey is especially known for being a key ingredient in classic cocktails that have withstood the test of time.

Key Takeaways

  • Old Overholt Rye Whiskey is a key ingredient in classic and contemporary cocktails.
  • Its bold flavour makes it ideal for aromatic and herbal mixed drinks.
  • Old Overholt has been celebrated in mixology for over a century.

While Old Overholt can certainly stand on its own as a sipping whiskey, its mixability truly sets it apart in the cocktail world. From the robust and aromatic Old Fashioned to the complex and herbal Sazerac, the rich flavour of Old Overholt’s rye provides each recipe with a solid foundation that supports and enhances the flavours of the additional ingredients. Moreover, contemporary mixologists have embraced this classic rye whiskey, crafting innovative drinks that build on its rich flavour and expand the boundaries of traditional rye cocktails.

Old Overholt Rye Whiskey Profile

Old Overholt Rye Whiskey impresses with its historical significance and distinctive tasting notes. It represents a timeless classic of American spirit with a rich heritage and a flavour profile that appeals to whiskey enthusiasts and cocktail lovers.


Established in the early 1800s, Old Overholt is hailed as one of America’s oldest continually maintained whiskey brands. It was originally made in the Monongahela style in Pennsylvania but is now produced by Jim Beam in Kentucky. The brand has withstood the test of time, maintaining a presence through significant periods in American history.

Tasting Notes

Old Overholt Rye presents a spicy and somewhat sweet overall flavour profile, with notes that reflect its primary grain:

  • Aroma: Herbal qualities with hints of oak and vanilla.
  • Palate: The flavour is boldly rye with nuances of black pepper, stone fruits, and a trace of honey.
  • Finish: A medium finish with a warm, spicy taste, characteristic of traditional rye whiskies.

This rye whiskey serves as an excellent base for various cocktails, including classics such as the Old Fashioned and the Manhattan, providing a robust foundation that complements a range of mixers and garnishes.

Classic Cocktails Featuring Old Overholt

Old Overholt, a versatile rye whiskey, is the base for several timeless cocktails. This section explores the flavours of two distinguished classics that magnify the robust character and distinctive flavour of Old Overholt.

Old Fashioned

The Old Fashioned sits at the pinnacle of classic whiskey cocktails, fervently adhered to by connoisseurs around the globe. It’s a study in simplicity and balance, combining Old Overholt with sugar, orange bitters, and a twist of citrus zest. The rye’s spicy undertones blend harmoniously with the sweetness and aromatic bitters, resulting in an outstanding, refreshing and complex cocktail.


Steeped in New York City heritage, the Manhattan is another venerated mix that showcases Old Overholt’s spicy and dry notes. This elegant drink melds the rye with sweet vermouth and a dash of bitters, traditionally garnished with a maraschino cherry. Its refined taste and sophistication have made it a favourite among whiskey lovers and aficionados.

Contemporary Old Overholt Cocktails

Old Overholt, a storied rye whiskey, serves as the foundation for various contemporary cocktails. Its spicy profile complements the modern palate, particularly in drinks such as the Old Pal and the Boulevardier.

Old Pal

The Old Pal is a classic cocktail, a dry, crisp cocktail that balances the spiciness of Old Overholt with the bitterness of Campari and the dryness of vermouth. Its recipe is straightforward:

  • 1 1/2 oz Old Overholt Rye Whiskey
  • 3/4 oz Dry Vermouth
  • 3/4 oz Campari
  • Lemon twist for garnish

This cocktail is stirred over ice, strained, and traditionally served in a chilled cocktail glass.


A close relative to the Negroni, the Boulevardier substitutes gin with Old Overholt, which imbues the drink with an American twist. Ingredients are mixed in equal parts for a smooth taste and harmonious flavour:

  • 1 oz Old Overholt Rye Whiskey
  • 1 oz Campari
  • 1 oz Sweet Vermouth

Garnish with an orange twist, lemon peel or cherry, and serve in an Old Fashioned glass with ice.

Cocktail Recipes and Mixology

When crafting cocktails with Old Overholt, the mixology process leans heavily on traditional methods to highlight the rye whiskey’s robust flavour. Attention to detail in mixing techniques and ingredient proportions can elevate the drink from good to exceptional.

Mixing Techniques

Old Overholt whiskey cocktail recipes often call for a careful balance of stirring or shaking to achieve the perfect dilution and temperature. Stirring is a common method to combine ingredients in drinks like the Old Fashioned Overholt gently; this technique preserves the clarity and rich texture of the whiskey. On the other hand, bartenders know shaking is better suited for drinks like the Overholt Sour, as it emulsifies and aerates the ingredients, delivering a smooth, frothy consistency.

Ingredient Proportions

The key to a successful Old Overholt cocktail recipe lies in precise ingredient proportions.

  • An Old Fashioned Overholt typically follows this ratio:
    • 2 oz Old Overholt rye whiskey
    • 1 sugar cube or 1/2 oz simple syrup
    • 2-3 dashes of Angostura bitters
    • A splash of water
  • For a Manhattan, the classic proportions are:
    • 2 oz Old Overholt rye whiskey
    • 1 oz sweet vermouth
    • 2 dashes of Angostura bitters

Maintaining the correct proportions ensures that Old Overholt’s spicy notes and dry notes shine through without being overpowered by the other components.

Bar Essentials and Tools

Crafting drinks like Old Overholt requires precise tools and specific glassware to ensure the drink’s integrity and taste.


Old Fashioned Glass: An Old Fashioned cocktail made with Old Overholt is traditionally served in an Old Fashioned glass or rocks glass. Its wide brim and thick base provide a solid foundation for muddling ingredients.

Cocktail Glass: A stemmed cocktail glass is preferable for drinks such as a Manhattan that includes Old Overholt. It allows the drinker to hold the glass without warming the contents, maintaining the cocktail’s temperature and flavour profile.


  • Mixing Glass: A high-quality, heavyweight mixing glass is essential for stirred Old Overholt drinks, ensuring a smooth mix without over-dilution.
  • Jigger: Accurate measures are crucial when making Old Overholt drinks, and jiggers provide the precision needed for the perfect balance between whiskey and mixers.
  • Bar Spoon: A long-handled bar spoon is necessary for stirring ingredients gently and achieving the proper dilution, especially in drinks like the Old Overholt Cocktail or Manhattan.
  • Muddler: To bring out the rich flavours of the cocktail’s components, a muddler is used to crush and mix ingredients such as sugar or fruit in the bottom of the glass.
  • Strainer: A Hawthorne or fine mesh strainer is indispensable when pouring the cocktail into the serving glass, ensuring clarity by removing unwanted solid ingredients.

Frequently Asked Questions

Old Overholt rye whiskey has been a staple in classic American cocktails for over a century. This section addresses common questions regarding its use in popular drinks, other ingredients, preparation methods, and historical significance.

What classic drinks feature rye whiskey, such as Old Overholt?

Classic cocktails featuring rye whiskey include the Manhattan and the Old Fashioned, both elevated by Old Overholt’s spicy and bold flavour profile.

How do you make an Old Overholt Old Fashioned?

To make an Old Overholt Old Fashioned, combine 2 ounces of Old Overholt, a sugar cube, a few dashes of Angostura bitters, and fresh ice cubes in a glass. Garnish with an orange peel or cherry after stirring until the sugar dissolves.

Can Old Overholt be used in a Rusty Nail cocktail, and how?

Yes, Old Overholt can be used in a Rusty Nail cocktail. Mix 1.5 ounces of Old Overholt with 0.75 ounces of Drambuie. Serve over ice and garnish with a lemon twist.

Is Old Overholt suitable for creating a Muddled cocktail, and what are some examples?

Old Overholt is well-suited for muddled drinks such as the Old Overholt Mint Julep, where fresh mint leaves are muddled with brown sugar, and bitters before being mixed with rye whiskey.

What is the substitution ratio when using Old Overholt instead of Jim Beam?

The substitution ratio for Old Overholt in place of Jim Beam is 1:1 since both whiskeys are similar in alcohol content and can play comparable roles in drinks, albeit with slightly different flavour nuances.

How has Old Overholt contributed to the history of American whiskey?

Old Overholt has a significant historical contribution to American whiskey as one of the oldest continually maintained brands of whiskey and was reputedly the preferred whiskey of President Abraham Lincoln.