Re: RARA-AVIS: Whatever happened to rye?

From: Patrick King (
Date: 11 Oct 2007

There was also the myth that one cannot detect vodka on the breath, which is certainly not true of gin.

Patrick King
--- Jeff Vorzimmer <> wrote:

> > I thought I'd try some, and there doesn't appear
> to be much available
> > right now. Just some by Jim Beam, which is hardly
> the bottom-shelf
> > stuff most hardboiled characters seem to swill by
> the bucketful. In
> > all the stuff I'm reading now, it's the ultimate
> working stiff's
> > drink, but now it appears to be something of a
> curiosity.
> Rye got eclipsed by bourbon as the American whisky
> of choice. I still drink
> it. Down here in Texas we get Old Overholt, which is
> a brand that's
> mentioned in hardboiled crime fiction. Actually rye
> is making a bit of a
> comeback down here with the resurgence in popularity
> of the Sazerac cocktail
> at local joints such as Opal Divine's.
> Rye is a bit smoother than bourbon. In Cain's
> Mildred Pierce (a masterpiece
> of American literature, I'd like to add), it's
> implied that it's more of a
> woman's whisky. Mind you, we're talking about
> 1933-34 (the timeframe of that
> book). By the forties, rye was easily the most
> consumed whisky in America.
> By the mid-fifties, it was considered more of an
> old-timers/skid-row bum
> drink. The mention of rye whisky in a lot of country
> and western songs of
> the late 40s and 50s, most notably Tex Ritter's Rye
> Whisky, didn't help its
> image among the cosmopolitan set.
> There were two other factors that contributed to the
> decline of both rye and
> gin in the early 60s--they were Frank Sinatra, James
> Bond and the Cold War.
> Frank Sinatra's very well-known preference for
> bourbon and specifically Jack
> Daniels went a long way to increasing the popularity
> of bourbon over rye.
> Bourbon, unjustly, was considered more sophisticated
> than rye.
> And James Bond's preference for vodka martini's
> contributed to the decline
> in gin consumption. With renewed respect for the
> Russian's (read Sputnik)
> and some great Madison Avenue marketing campaigns
> came a boom in vodka
> consumption. Some social historians say that Bond's
> consumption of vodka
> martini's was the earliest example of product
> placement in the movies;
> bought and paid for by Smirnoff Vodka.
> Jeff

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