Rye beverage director Doug Petry
Rye beverage director Doug Petry explains the magic behind the Tiki Toddy. | Photo by Sara Havens

Who says you have to wait 19 more days to open gifts? Rye on Market is giving its patrons new presents to unwrap each day from its Advent Cocktail Calendar that features 23 holiday-inspired drinks.

The concept was the brain child of Rye partner and beverage director Doug Petry, who wanted to challenge his bartenders to come up with innovative cocktails that captured the flavors and spirits of the holidays.

The drinks run the gamut from bourbon to gin, tequila to brandy, and most take their names from popular Christmas movies. Each day, a new drink is “unwrapped” by pulling off a tab from the Advent Cocktail Calendar, and you can either order that concoction or choose one that’s already been open. If the spirit moves you to share on social media, you’re encouraged to use the hashtags #RYEWinter and #DrinksForDays, and the winning photographer will receive dinner for two at the NuLu restaurant.

Petry invited a small group of industry writers to sample a few of the drinks last Friday, and I can say without hesitation that each not only tasted amazing but also showed exquisite craftsmanship.

A sneak peek of the World's Best Cup of Coffee
A sneak peek at the World’s Best Cup of Coffee

One of my favorites was the warming Tiki Toddy, which included a Demerara sugar-coated, flambéed piece of pineapple as a garnish. The drink was made with light rum and pineapple/lime juice. Another highlight was the World’s Best Cup of Coffee, which includes rye whiskey, cold Argo Sons coffee, horchata and Angostura bitters, and is garnished with a cinnamon stick. It was smooth and creamy like a good iced coffee, and it had a kick at the end that made me sit up at attention.

The Peppermint Patty mixes brandy, bitters and peppermint with a splash of sparkling wine, and the intricate Three Kings uses immature brandy as its base, along with pear, lemon, bitters and a hint of Chianti.

Peppermint Patty
Peppermint Patty

Petry let us peek at the entire cocktail list, and the upcoming drinks sound equally as promising. I’ll definitely be returning for the Stocking Stuffer, which includes hot chocolate, bourbon, Fernet and marshmallows, as well as the Hot Buttered Rum, made simply with dark rum and cinnamon butter.

As part of their holiday promotion, the staff at Rye came up with their own version on the classic holiday poem below. Enjoy.

The Month before Christmas

‘Twas the month before Christmas, when all through the ‘Ville,
The bartenders were shaking and stirring, not a drop to spill.
Garnishes were cut, and stored with great care,
In hopes that drinkers soon would be there.

RYE’s bartenders were nestled snug behind the pine,
While visions of cocktails danced in their minds.
And Thor in his kerchief, and I in my hat
Had just poured some whiskey for a winter’s night cap

When out on the street there arose such a clatter
I sprang from my barstool to see what was the matter
Away to the window I flew like a flash
Tore open the shutter and threw up the sash

Unwrap a new cocktail each day.
Unwrap a new cocktail each day.

The moon glistened down on East Market Street.
Reflecting the tracks of the delivery fleet
When, what to my wondering eyes should I see
But a package of liquor, both brown and clear

I rushed to the box to see what it contained
And called out its contents in a refrain –

Now gin, now vodka
Now, tequila and mescal!
On scotch! On Rum!
On, Rye and Bourbon!
To the back of the bar we go
Then on to tins
Shaken to and fro

A new drink each day, is what we will do
A celebration! A countdown too!
And for a chance to win,
Dinner for two.

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Sara Havens
Sara Havens is the Culture Editor at Insider Louisville, known around town as the Bar Belle (barbelleblog.com). She's a former editor of LEO Weekly and has written for Playboy and The Alcohol Professor. Havens is the author of two books: "The Bar Belle" and "The Bar Belle Vol. 2."