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mbanu

Rock & Rye

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Admin: Split from the thread on hot drinks.

i'm thinking about making hot cider toddies with some rock and rye (anyone have a good rock and rye recipe?).  and of course there's the hot buttered rums and the tom and jerrys...

Rock & Rye is the simplest drink in the world, if you start with good rye, and understand a few things.

The goal of a good Rock & Rye is to turn a quality rye into a rye liqueur, while keeping it at an appropritate strength.

Here's my recipe:

2 ounces Wild Turkey Rye (101 proof)

1/2 ounce simple syrup

Combine and serve, either straight or on the rocks.

101 proof rye is used so that the end result will be sweet but still of a standard strength. Made as above, you end up with two and a half ounces of 80 proof rye liqueur. Because you're basically just sweetening a straight rye, the quality of the rye is directly proportional to the quality of the liqueur. That's why I chose Wild Turkey. Some people might prefer to go with Rittenhouse bonded.

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i guess i wasn't clear earlier about what Rock&Rye was. i didn't realize it was a simple drink. but now that you've enlightened me, i've been enjoying these (as well as sazaracs). the rock and rye recipe that i saw came from a magazine ("Drink", i think) and was for a hot apple toddy. you basically made a spiced cider and then added "Rock & Rye" which was a concoction with sweetened rye and citrus peel and spices. it was much more like the juaquin's rock and rye liquer (which looks nasty). but i've been set straight.

i think i'm gonna try that Hot Port Sangaree. sounds great and i like that it can be made one glass at a time.

thanks!

noah

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I'll state upfront that I know next to nothing about the history or the flavor of rock and rye. Hell, I only tasted rye whiskey for the first time a year or two ago so I'm certainly not qualified to make any bold statements about rye or any rye variants*. However, having said that, I'll point out that Charles Baker**, one of the patron saints, big cheeses, lord-high muckety-mucks of our little cocktail-centric world does include citrus and spices in his recipe. Off the top of my pointy little head I think he called for quartered lemons and oranges and cloves in addition to the rock candy that gives rock and rye its name (or so I assume).

Are there different schools of thought as to rock and rye. Is there a bare bones, no fuss school? Mbanu's recipe sounds like a pleasant and simple drink but it also strikes me that it's a dash or two of bitters and a nice slice of lemon peel away from being an Old Fashioned. Also, I guess I just find it a bit of a stretch to think that anyone now or decades ago would find it profitable to bottle sweetened rye whiskey. [Yeah, yeah, I know. I hadn't even finished typing that last sentence when I realized how silly it was.]

I just made a quick trip to CocktailDB. The description of rock and rye there is "Generic for liqueur, traditionally with a rye whiskey base and infused horehound & fruit flavoring, often with macerated fruit in bottle's bottom."

"Horehound"?

Kurt

*Not that this would stop me, of course...

**Charles H. Baker Jr: "Jigger, Beaker, and Glass : Drinking Around the World" (aka Vol. 2 of "The Gentleman's Companion")


“I like to keep a bottle of stimulant handy in case I see a snake--which I also keep handy.” ~W.C. Fields

The Handy Snake

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ok, experts... kurt and i are both getting confused about Rock and Rye. what's the real deal? fruit and spices? or no fruit and spices? looks like classically, they're included. any favorite recipes?

we need to know before we can be properly ready for our christmas parties! :wink:

noah

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Noah, it's my guess that the lack of response here shows just how little is known or remembered about Rock and Rye. However popular Rock and Rye may have been at one point it doesn't appear that many recipes for it have made it into cyberspace. I did find one recipe for a single serving of Rock and Rye at Cocktail.com that called for 2 oz. rye, rock candy and the juice of a lemon. Um, no thanks. If I'm in the mood for a whiskey sour on the rocks I won't be ordering it extra-sour or with real--well, non-ice--rocks. I should point out, however, that this lumpy, tart concoction is from a cocktail book published in 1933. While Baker's recipe is of similar vintage I wonder if it's recipes like this that brought about the demise of Rock and Rye.

Another possibility may be that the bottled version of Rock and Rye has played a part in its decline. I can't say as I've ever seen a bottle that didn't appear to me to be a budget-priced "well" spirit. I also can't say that said bottles ever sparked any interest in me other than idle curiosity. As such, while I think Mbanu's no-fuss recipe will certainly do in a pinch and is likely to be better than store-bought I think a Baker-style recipe is your best bet.

I'm fortunate enough to live in a city where I can buy Old Overholt or Rittenhouse bonded for $13 and 80-proof Rittenhouse for $10 so I may well give this a shot sometime soon. If I do I'll be sure to report back. In the meantime, if you're still interested but don't yet have a copy of Baker's book, here's the gist:

In addition to the ingredients I listed above (a bottle of rye, rock candy, an orange, a lemon and a dozen cloves) Baker also includes 1.5 ounces of Jamaican rum and a cinnamon stick or two. Combine these and let sit for two weeks. Then strain but return the fruit to the rye. I assume the rock candy will have dissolved by this time but, if not, I suppose I'd return that too. At that point it's ready to go.

What I don't know and couldn't discern from the rock candy recipes I googled up is whether one can substitute regular sugar or simple syrup for the rock candy and, if so, how much of either is the equivalent of a half-cup of rock candy? Some of the rock candy recipes I reviewed are essentially simple syrup recipes but with string involved to spark the creation of big sugar crystals. Others suggest heating the syrup to a temp of 250 degrees or so. At what temp does the flavor of sugar start to change? Any candy-makers in the house? I haven't had rock candy in probably 30 years so I don't remember if it's nothing more than "big sugar" or if it's something mid-way between sugar and caramel. Anyone?

Thanks.

Kurt


“I like to keep a bottle of stimulant handy in case I see a snake--which I also keep handy.” ~W.C. Fields

The Handy Snake

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I haven't had rock candy in probably 30 years so I don't remember if it's nothing more than "big sugar" or if it's something mid-way between sugar and caramel.  Anyone?

Not a candy maker; but, all the rock candy I had, uh, probably 30 years ago was just big white sugar crystals. Not caramel like at all.

Makes my teeth hurt to think about it.

BTW, 250 degrees F is Firm/Hard ball and a sugar concentration around 90%.

Color doesn't start to change to brown until around 330 degrees F and a sugar concentration near 99 percent.*

edited to add more sugar stuff.

*Source


Edited by eje (log)

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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The earliest recipe for Rock & Rye I can find is from the Jerry Thomas book (click here). It calls for nothing more than rye whiskey and rock candy syrup, which I take to mean a highly saturated simple syrup.

Thus the name Rock (candy syrup) and Rye (whiskey).


--

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Wow, we'd forgotten about Rock and Rye. My personal bartender is forcing orange and lemon wedges into an empty bottle as we speak, because of this thread. I feel wistful that we don't have the real Rock (remember making it in either Chemistry class or Home Ec?) but the simple syrup will have to do.

I love horehound, but I don't think it belongs in R and R -- I'm open to trying the the humbugs version if you make it though. (Since moving to the States I have never found a reliable source of humbugs.)I think of Rock and Rye as an Old Fashioned aspiring to be a liquer, and there's nothing the matter with that!


Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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you people are too awesome. ok... i learned the joy of rye and sugar (actually, in sazeracs... i've polished off half a bottle of old overholt this way). last night my wife added some mulling spices to grocery store apple cider. i promply dumped an oz of rye in my cup... holy crap... instantly made a tasty drink a much more interesting one.

now... if i did the whole spices and citrus peel "rock and rye" would this even further improve the cider? is this type of rock and rye drinkable on its own?

if jerry thomas was making "rock and rye" the simplistic way, when did fruit and spices make their way in there?

hmm... rye is relatively cheap... so i might make an attempt at it myself. and kurt, thanks for the reply!

noah


Edited by lostmyshape (log)

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Bump...

Found myself wasting some time over at StraightBourbon.com earlier today. SB has a separate forum for "other American whiskeys"--read "rye". I was checking out a thread from last fall discussing Rittenhouse Rye and, to my surprise, I found a favorable mention of Jaquin's Rock & Rye.

The poster (and thread-starter) is "Gillman" and it doesn't take a lot of time at SB.com to see that he isn't one of those BB regulars who types out any old nonsense while killing time between episodes of Deep Space Nine. He's seems to know more than a little something about good liquor. [He also manages to use the words "inimical" and "bibulous" without sounding like a pompous know-it-all but I digress...] Scroll just about to the bottom of page one to read the whole post but I don't think he'd mind if I post one sentence:

Jacquin's brand has a super-complex fruity taste, an exotic rosewater-like effect which melds and informs rye whiskey to perfection.

I doubt I'll make Jacquin's R&R my next liquor purchase but I'm glad to have read a positive review written by someone with substantial brown booze experience. I had assumed the Jacquin's R&R was some sort of oversweetened carmel-colored nonsense but, now, who knows, at $10/750ml it may well be an impulse buy at some point. At the very least it's good to know that I don't have to make it from scratch if I get the itch to try it.

Kurt


“I like to keep a bottle of stimulant handy in case I see a snake--which I also keep handy.” ~W.C. Fields

The Handy Snake

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Bump...

Found myself wasting some time over at StraightBourbon.com earlier today.  SB has a separate forum for "other American whiskeys"--read "rye".  I was checking out a thread from last fall discussing Rittenhouse Rye and, to my surprise, I found a favorable mention of Jaquin's Rock & Rye.

The poster (and thread-starter) is "Gillman" and it doesn't take a lot of time at SB.com to see that he isn't one of those BB regulars who types out any old nonsense while killing time between episodes of Deep Space Nine.  He's seems to know more than a little something about good liquor.  [He also manages to use the words "inimical" and "bibulous" without sounding like a pompous know-it-all but I digress...]  Scroll just about to the bottom of page one to read the whole post but I don't think he'd mind if I post one sentence: 

Jacquin's brand has a super-complex fruity taste, an exotic rosewater-like effect which melds and informs rye whiskey to perfection.

I doubt I'll make Jacquin's R&R my next liquor purchase but I'm glad to have read a positive review written by someone with substantial brown booze experience. I had assumed the Jacquin's R&R was some sort of oversweetened carmel-colored nonsense but, now, who knows, at $10/750ml it may well be an impulse buy at some point. At the very least it's good to know that I don't have to make it from scratch if I get the itch to try it.

Kurt

The Jacquin's isn't bad at all, especially when it's on sale for $5.99 in dangerous looking liquor stores in southeast D.C. (no offense meant to anyone).

And it's best ordered in bars as a 'double' with "seven Carling's" :smile:

Thanks,

Kevin


DarkSide Member #005-03-07-06

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In Michigan, where I grew up, Faygo was the unofficial state soft drink maker (followed closely by Vernor's Ginger Ale). One of Faygo's most popular flavors was Rock and Rye, and I always wondered if it had ever been inspired by something made with rye whisk(e)y.

Any Michiganders (or Faygo cognoscenti) have any insight into this?


In vino veritas.

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I tried the Hiram Walker rock and rye and was not pleased. But I have never been pleased with there products.

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My first batch of rock and rye is nearing the bottom of the bottle, and while I can always dump more Rittenhouse on top, I'm thinking of giving a bottle of Jack Daniel's Rested Rye (hey, it was a gift, not my choice!) the rock treatment to try and deal with the weird banana flavor in it.

 

I recall I used a combination of a recipe from Imbibe and one from LeNell Smothers, both of which are online, but instead of horehound (not my fave) I used a sprig of anise hyssop, which worked nicely.

 

In looking up the recipes again, I found a whole bunch online; no two alike, yet not a lot of variation among them.  I would think this is a worthy line of experimentation, given the range of spices (cinnamon, clove, star anise, etc.) and fruits (orange, lemon, cherry, apricot, even prune) that go into them.

 

Anyone gone the homemade route recently, or has Hochstadter's and Dr. Katz's taken over?


"The thirst for water is a primitive one. Thirst for wine means culture, and thirst for a cocktail is its highest expression."

Pepe Carvalho, The Buenos Aires Quintet by Manuel Vazquez Montalban

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Hochstadter's generally scratches that itch pretty thoroughly for me when it occurs! But I am not much of one for doing various infusion's on my own anyway.


If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man. ~Mark Twain

Some people are like a Slinky. They are not really good for anything, but you still can't help but smile when you shove them down the stairs...

~tanstaafl2

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I've made the LaNell version a couple of times and really enjoyed it as an after dinner sipper instead of an amaro. I like the horehound component.

 

This thread may get me off my duff to make it again. It's the perfect winter tot.

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