Jim Beam(rī)1

You’ve got to hand it to the Beam family. Instead of resting on considerable laurels, those folks in Kentucky keep their bourbons facing the future. There’s no better evidence of that than (rī)1 (rye one), a spirit drawing attention around the country as much for phonetics and packaging as its peppery finish.

No one’s saying that this particular Beam came from a generations-old family recipe, but last time I talked with Jim Beam’s great-grandson Fred Noe, he told me that there are plenty of those old recipes still lying around.

“My great-grandfather’s favorite recipe was for Old Tub,” he says. “In the 1800s, that was our most popular bourbon. It was a 4-year-old, 100 percent proof bourbon. Somewhere in the mid-1970s, the label changed to Jim Beam.” And somewhere during the late 1990s and early years of the 21st century, Jim Beam branders decided that sexy and cool could sell bourbon just as well as simple and country.

The biggest problem you might have with this spirit is getting some in your glass. It sold out its initial shipment to Hawaii in hours, and sold out the second one a few months later. You might find some behind the bar at Chart House or Murphy’s, and rumor has it that Tamura’s Fine Wines still has bottles on the shelves. So if you want to grab a bottle of this ultra-cool spirit for your ultra-cool guy or your ultra-cool self, then go now before the third shipment sells out, too.

Smooth, sexy, spicy and marketed with a sophistication new to the world of bourbon, (rī)1 is a little more city slicker than country cousin. But that’s all OK with Noe, who realizes that part of maintaining tradition is moving with the times.

“Come down to Kentucky,” he told me. “We’ll have you try some.”

(rī)1 ON ROCKS

You wouldn’t sip it like a cognac exactly, but you would throw a couple of ice cubes in and let the pepper and spice release a little.

(rī)1 MANHATTAN

Ingredients:

* 2 parts whiskey
* 1/2 part sweet vermouth
* 1/2 part dry vermouth
* 1 dash bitters

Pour ingredients into cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well, strain into chilled Manhattan glass and garnish with a maraschino cherry.

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