Shove over cocktails on tap, there’s yet another new bottled cocktail in town: Rock and rye is ready for its close-up. Again.
Rock and rye was all the rage in the nineteenth century, when straight rye whiskey mixed with rock candy, sugar and citrus. Any barman worth his salt, er, sugar would use these ingredients to soften the raw edge of then-popular straight rye, a fermented, distilled grain abundant and well-used by Revolutionary soldiers.
Mister Katz’s Rock & Rye uses New York State–sourced rye.
Now, after a year, when whiskey wrestled vodka to the mat in U.S. sales by volume, several producers are poised to revive rock and rye—this time in bottle form.
“Rock and Rye would have been an impossible sell without the public’s new familiarity with rye,” says Robert Simonson, author of The Old-Fashioned, a drink rock and rye strives to taste like. The similarity is especially uncanny in the most recently released bottled rock and rye, New York Distilling’s Mr. Katz’s Rock & Rye. This bottling is made from New York State–sourced rye and then flavored with Brooklyn’s own Sugar in the Raw, orange peel, cinnamon and cherry.
Just a hair of a month earlier than that release, Reilly’s Ginger Rock and Rye hit shelves, its orange-peel punch apparent at first whiff. Then there’s the brand that spawned the trend in the modern era, Hochstadter’s Slow & Low from the Cooper Spirits Company, which has been muddling around shelves since 2012, and offers a spicier treatment.
A little necromancy never hurt anyone, right?
The Cave Creek cocktail, made with New York Distilling Company’s Rock & Rye.
Contributed by Nate Dumas
1.25 oz Mister Katz’s Rock & Rye
1 oz Glenlivet 12-Year Scotch Whisky
.75 oz Fresh lemon juice
.5 oz Real grenadine
.25 oz Campari
Garnish: Lemon twist
Glass: Collins glass
Shake all ingredients over ice. Add one ounce of chilled club soda and strain into a Collins glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with a lemon twist and serve with a straw.
Amy Zavatto is the author of The Architecture of the Cocktail, contributing editor to Imbibe, and the Deputy Editor of Edible Manhattan and Edible Brooklyn. She really, really, really likes whisk(e)y in all its lovely forms.
I have a great Rock & Rye story... we would shovel snow for our neighbor in our small NJ town; this was in the late 50s. My brother was about 9 years old and I was a bit over 5. When we were done with the task we were invited into the neighbor's home and given a shot of Rock and Rye. The R&R at the time had fruit in the bottom of the bottle, which was amazing to us kids, but the warmth of that shot and the temporary dizziness was what made the experience something to remember all these years. We went back year after year to help them with their shoveling. No brain damage, at least I don't think so, but just a longing to find R&R like it was then.