Rock and Rye is an amazing drink in that people who make it swear it prevents the common cold and flu. Science seems to concur, suggesting a small amount daily may prevent infection.  When you think about it, early cold medicines were made of glycerine (a sugar syrup), alcohol, citrus extracts and oil of cinnamon and cloves. This, we might call, a deconstructed cold medicine, and much tastier.  You may, of course drink this on the rocks, as shown, or pour a tablespoon into a cup of hot tea, or drink a straight shot. Don’t overdo it, as an excess can have the opposite effect of lowering your natural resistance allowing those nasty germs to affect you.  While there are many commercial versions of this on the market, this is the recipe used by Dominick LaRuffa, one of New York’s great 1930’s bartenders and restaurateurs.  He made this every year and lived to 86 with only one cold in his adult life – the year he did not make a bottle of this delicious concoction.

Rock and Rye

Rock and Rye
Prep time
Total time
A small drink of this every day is said to prevent the common cold and flu from infection. It was a favorite of New York bartenders for more than 75 years.
Recipe type: Punch
Cuisine: American
Serves: 1 bottle
  • 1 bottle inexpensive Rye whiskey (4/5 liter)
  • 1 string of rock crystal sugar, about 3-inches long, white
  • 1 washed, sliced orange (preferably organic)
  • 1 washed, sliced lemon (preferably organic)
  • 1 cinnamon stick, about 3-inches long
  • 3 whole cloves
  1. Sterilize a large, preferably wide-mouth glass bottle (do not use plastic or ceramic) and cap in boiling water to cover and remove with tongs. Do not touch the rim. Drain and allow to cool.
  2. Slice citrus across into discs.
  3. Add the sliced orange and lemon (pips from each removed, where possible) to the bottle, and the cinnamon and cloves.
  4. Pour in the rye whiskey.
  5. Lower into this, the rock candy, keeping the string out so that it overlaps the bottle opening. Cover and seal the jar.
  6. Place the jar in the refrigerator for a minimum of two weeks. Some of the sugar will dissolve, if gently shaken or swirled, without opening, each day.
  7. The Rock and Rye will be read to drink in about 14 days. Do not stir, shake or swirl when pouring.
The rock candy will very slowly dissolve. Do not expect it to vanish quickly. As you drink this, make sure the rock candy is in the liquid at all times. It will sweeten over time.


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