cherry, citrus, clove, menthol, bittersweet
MGP rye whiskey, cherry, orange, apricot, lemon verbena, horehound, sugar, clove, cinnamon, orange bitters, Douglas fir bitters
We previously featured this cocktail in Volume #2: Lost Ingredients and decided to come at it from a new angle in Volume #3.
A little online research will tell you the provenance of the Rock & Rye cocktail, especially since its resurrection in the current historical cocktail renaissance has made information about it easy to access. The Rock & Rye was a product of America’s earliest saloons and appears in Harry Johnson’s Bartender’s Manual in 1888. The original cocktail was a homemade whiskey based liqueur, spiced and sweetened probably to mask poor whiskey. Traditional wisdom compares the original to an “Old Fashioned in a bottle.” It was as ubiquitous in the American bar as many other staples now lost, like Amer Picon, which made it a perfect candidate for our Lost Ingredient themed menu (Vol #2).
We liked our house Rock & Rye so much we decided to rethink and transform it for Volume #3. We adjusted the recipe a small amount—adding douglas fir bitters, apricot, horehound, and our house picon—and then milk washing the whole batch. The process traps tannins and solids from the cocktail in a web of milk fats, which act like a molecular sieve.
The result is a clarified, much softer and more herbaceous cocktail than we started with. We’ve also added candied ginger to our garnish, a shout out to the rock candy garnish that gave the original its name.