Rock and Rye can be traced to early bar days of a growing nation; a patron would order a shot of rye whiskey (widely available) and add their own rock candy. Was this a precursor to one of our foundation cocktails- The Old Fashioned? Surprisingly, midway through the 19th Century and into prohibition it segued from bar to pharmacy and was claimed to cure a variety of ailments. Basically it's rye, sugar, citrus (I imagine whatever a bartender had left over or available).
Famously, in song, Earl Hines had a hit with "Rock and Rye Rag" in the '30s and Tex Ritter a country tribute called "Rock and Rye" in the '50s. My personal favorite reference occurs during the classic road-trip scene in the movie Animal House. 'Boon' goes up to a bartender and orders a "Rock and Rye" as Otis Day and The Knights play "Shamalama Ding Dong" on the dimly lit lounge's stage. While barely made anymore (Mr. Boston's, Jacquin's and Hochstader's still do manufacture versions) and not very visible, it's pretty fun to bring it back- even in a small way.
So below find my version, I encourage you to make a bottle yourself.
In a half gallon mason jar, add:
1 liter bottle of rye (Old Overholt, Jim Beam)
1 sliced orange
˝ of a sliced lemon
6 inch strand of rock candy
1 oz of Angustura Bitters
Shake a few times daily, in approximately two days the rock candy will be completely dissolved. Strain into a separate vessel and then use a funnel to return to the original rye whiskey bottle. Serve over a couple of ice cubes, no garnish necessary.
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