My Family's Best Rock and Rye Recipe

Updated on December 7, 2019
LiteraryMind profile image

I love to cook and try new foods and recipes. I try to do my best to incorporate healthy foods, but sometimes I need a little comfort food.

Rock and Rye
Rock and Rye | Source

How to Make Rock and Rye

Rock and Rye is a sweet, thick alcoholic beverage. It is usually served in a cordial glass or in a low glass over ice. It may be served after dinner with dessert and coffee.

I am going to share with you my mother's recipe and show you how to make Rock and Rye. Sure, you can buy it already made in the store, but by making it yourself, you can perfectly adjust the flavor to your liking. A little more of this, a little less of that.

Can You Take Rock and Rye for Colds?

There is a Rock and Rye cold remedy: Whenever I had a cold with a cough, my mom would give me a tablespoon or sometimes a shot glass of this homemade beverage. I can remember this as far back as when I was 7 years old. It was also at that age that she shared her recipe with me to replenish the bottle. We would make it together.

Today, this sounds awful. You would not give your child an alcoholic beverage for a cold. It's not the kind of thing you would let your 7-year-old make or drink. You have to remember my parents' generation was raised by parents who were born in the 1880s. Home remedies prevailed. Many of them had alcohol in them. Even many of the "medicines" that you bought contained alcohol.

Under no circumstances am I suggesting liquor or these other home remedies be used for children.

Rock and Rye Ingredients
Rock and Rye Ingredients | Source

Mom's Recipe for Rock and Rye


  • 2 cups of Rock Candy (approximately)
  • 1 prune (I use Sunsweet Ones—individually wrapped)
  • 1 orange slice
  • 1 lemon slice
  • 1/2 -750 ml bottle rye whiskey or 375 mls


  1. Put the rock candy in the bottle first.
  2. Add the fruit and then the rye whiskey.
  3. Cover and let store in a cool dark place until the rock candy melts (about 4 weeks).
  4. Drink!
  5. If you think you would like it orangier, add more orange. More tart? Add more lemon. If you want it sweeter and/or thicker, add more rock candy.

Rock & Rye
Rock & Rye | Source

Finding a Suitable Bottle for Rock & Rye

This Is Probably the Hardest Part

In order to get the ingredients into the bottle, you need one with a wide neck. It needs to be glass and have a stopper or cover. This is not as easy as it sounds as almost every vessel you find in the stores is plastic. Look in the discount stores, some of them still carry glass bottles to make or put juice in.

You may have to improvise and find an open wine carafe and then stuff the opening with a homemade stopper made from aluminum foil. You want to be able to remove the fruit when you have finished drinking all the liquid. This way, you can reuse the container to make a fresh batch.

I found a great bottle made by Luminarc. I purchased it when I was making Creme de Menthe . It has a wide opening and a cover that snaps in tightly. The bottle is shaped so you can get a good grip on it, even though it's large. The grip also aids in pouring for when you transfer your cordial to a fancier bottle or to individual bottles for gifting.

Another suggestion would be to buy a large bottle -- like a gallon container and double or triple the recipe. When the Rock and Rye is ready you can divide it into smaller decorative bottles and use them as hostess gifts. Labeling them as your own homemade gift makes it that much more special to the recipient(s).

Rock Candy
Rock Candy | Source

Rock Candy - The Second Hardest Part of This Operation

Rock candy is a little hard to find in some areas.

Sometimes, in tourist areas, you will find it in stores that carry old time candies. I found mine at The Franklin General Store in Mystic, Connecticut. They had both the ones on sticks and the ones on strings. I opted for the one on strings as I figured it would be easier to work with. But...I have never tried the sticks.

Each bag of rock candy that I bought had a Net Weight on it of 2.86 ounces. It's hard to measure, but each bag fit roughly into a one cup measuring cup.

Rock candy also comes in flavors. I used the plain kind. If you are adventuresome you might want to try flavors. I would suggest starting with plain and then deciding.

If you are really adventuresome you can make your own rock candy. The are recipes on the internet and also there are kits on Amazon.

Casks of Wine in Wine Cellar
Casks of Wine in Wine Cellar | Source

The Older Generation

A Glimpse at My Family's Home Remedies

When I was a child I was very anemic. I went to the family doctor weekly for shots (of what, I don't know -- I do remember the needle). And, I took drops, cherry flavored. (To this day, I love cherries, but I can't get anything cherry flavored down. )Yech!

I was at my Italian grandmother's house. I remember my grandmother taking me into her wine cellar. My grandparents had a big house in the Bronx. It had an unusual design, outside main stairs led to the second floor of the house. You entered the wine cellar from the first floor. It was under the granite steps that led to second floor. It was cool in there and it smelled oh so good. It smelled of wine and the wine soaked wooden barrels.

Grandma turned the spigot on the wine barrel and filled a cup with her homemade red wine. "I giva the wine", she said. "I maka the blood thick". So this was grandma's cure for anemia. I remember drinking it, but not much after that.

Again, this sounds bad, but remember both she and my grandfather drank wine in Italy from a very early age. My grandmother packed it in my father's lunch to take to school in the United States. So to my grandmother, this was normal. (Both grandparents lived into their 90's and my father lived to 98 years old).

Both of my parents say that as children, if they had a sore throat, their mothers would take a 2 inch square rag and wet it with cold water and stick it on the front of their throat. Then they would take a piece of wool or flannel and wrap it around their throat like a turtle neck before going to sleep. Both, swear that, when you wake up, the sore throat is gone. As adults, they would often do this.

If the above remedies sound distasteful to you.......get ready for the worst one I ever heard. My German grandmother says when she was a little girl if anyone had a toothache, they would take a rag out to the barn. Then, they would fill the rag with cow manure and put it up against their cheek. It was warm and acted like a hot water bottle. THE MANURE CURE.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2011 Ellen Gregory

Stop By and Leave a Comment - Sit back; put your feet up; enjoy a glass of Rock & Rye

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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I'll be the first to admit I'd love to try this. :)

    • Erin Mellor profile image

      Erin Mellor 

      6 years ago from Europe

      This looks great - but I was raised on whiskey - for colic, for colds, for upset tummies, for fever. Now and again a Cointreu doe the added vitamin C.

    • SheGetsCreative profile image

      Angela F 

      7 years ago from Seattle, WA

      nice job on this - love the decanters selected. FYI: My pediatrician actually prescribed a tablespoon of whiskey & honey to combat my asthmatic cough as a toddler. Those were the days, huh? ;)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      This seems good,, one time I wanted to try to make

    • JimHofman profile image


      7 years ago

      This sure sounds good! We will try your recipe. Definitely sounds like a great gift idea. We give our homemade glogg (lens by same name) for holiday presents.

    • profile image

      LeenaBK LM 

      7 years ago

      That was an interesting concoction. Will definitely give it a try.

    • takkhisa profile image


      7 years ago

      Your Rock and Rye recipe makes me hungry now! :)

    • jamesonsquidoo profile image


      7 years ago

      Nice lens. Rock and Rye rocks!

    • kmhrsn profile image


      7 years ago

      What a fabulous lens! I can't wait to try your recipe. Well written and engaging.

    • kimbesa2 profile image


      7 years ago from USA

      I learned something new...I only knew Rock and Rye as a store-bought product. A spoonful of sugar does make the medicine go down! Thanks so much for this classy lens!

    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 

      7 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      Sounds good for drinkers.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Returning for a sip of Rock and Rye....oh my!

    • BestMassageChairs profile image


      7 years ago

      Nice Lens -- looks to be a tasty drink :) Thanks for stopping by my lens

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I had never heard of this but I can't wait to try it!

    • Melissa Miotke profile image

      Melissa Miotke 

      7 years ago from Arizona

      I love rock candy, this sounds so good!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I've never had this - may have to try it.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      lots of great info on these drinks. We used to make our own cherry brandy, creme de menthe and a few others plus brew our own beer. We did that in the back of our vehicle while traveling around Australia. Quite funny when I think about it.

    • HenkWillemse profile image


      7 years ago

      Really nice lens, I love rock candy!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Awesome family used to do the same thing!

    • tedwritesstuff24 profile image


      7 years ago

      Booze a nice social drink...

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Some great item to serve your delicious beverage. Thanks for your recipe, I will try this at home.

    • VspaBotanicals profile image


      7 years ago

      I've got to try this. Wonderful lens.

    • jonathanwm profile image


      7 years ago

      Great stuff. Very cool len

    • profile image

      cjbmeb14 lm 

      7 years ago

      Great story on a great lens.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I have never had this before. Time to try it.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I'd never heard of Rock n rye! What a fascinating story- you were lucky to have had those experiences as a child, very special!

    • LiteraryMind profile imageAUTHOR

      Ellen Gregory 

      7 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      @anonymous: I would leave the fruit in if I was giving it in a big bottle or the bottle I made it in. The fruit becomes stewed in the liquor and is quite tasty -- intoxicatingly so.

      If you make a big batch in a big bottle and are going to divide it among smaller bottles for gifts, then I would just add the thin curlicue of lemon and or orange. It's hard to smash to large fruit into a small bottle.

    • aviwolfson profile image

      Avi Wolfson 

      7 years ago from Massachusetts

      Great recipe, I wrote this one down, can't wait to try!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I just made this from a similar recipe I found a few weeks ago. I got 2.5 oz. boxes of plain rock candy -- no sticks or strings-- at Crackerbarrel. I have a question, though. Do you strain it off at some point to get rid of the fruit? When you give it as a gift do you just give the liquid and nothing else? The recipe I used also has star anise, cinnamon sticks and cloves.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Used to see rock candy in the liquor store and wonder what it was for.

    • JohnTannahill profile image

      John Tannahill 

      7 years ago from Somewhere in England

      I'd never heard of this drink. I might try it at Christmas as I haven't made sloe gin this year.

    • LiteraryMind profile imageAUTHOR

      Ellen Gregory 

      7 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      @Kailua-KonaGirl: Although I don't want to promote parents giving their children alcohol, I agree with you. I think it's safer than a lot of the pharmaceuticals, many of which are distributed before the test results are fully in. That, and a whole lot of products, such as mouthwash, have hidden alcohol in them. I learned that from a friend whose son was an alcoholic. They had to dump all the mouthwash.

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image


      7 years ago from New York

      Fabulous lens! I use to give my kids a horrible tasting herbal concoction if they brought the flu home from school and in it was a shot of rock & rye. The sweetness of the rock & rye made the herbal remedy go done easier and the alcohol helped them to sleep. They did not get sick very often, so it is not like you are turning them into drunks. The 1 shot for healing once every 5 years or so years is far less damaging than the pharmaceuticals the modern doctors pump into kids for every little thing these days! Great lens! *Squid Angel Blessed* and pinned.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      thank you for an interesting idea.. but why not just drink the rye?

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 

      7 years ago from United States

      I have never hear of Rock and Rye. I am laughing at myself now. I had no idea it meant rye whiskey :)

    • gregs411 profile image


      7 years ago

      This is new to me, but it sounds like fun. Thanks for the nice lens.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Always Make My Own. Use Those Items Plus Either Triple-Sec And Or Grenadine. I Add Grapes & Sometimes Other Fruit---Apple Slices--Use A 750 Ml Segrams 7 & Then 2-4 Lbs Of Rock Candy---Available In 5 Lb Boxes @ Candy Stores

    • profile image

      GenWatcher LM 

      7 years ago

      I haven't thought of Rock-n-Rye for years! Nice memories!

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      7 years ago from Ljubljana

      I seems i have learned something new and it looks tasty! Thanks:)

    • WriterJanis2 profile image


      7 years ago

      Never heard of this. Thanks for introducing me to this beverage.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 

      7 years ago from Canada

      Your rock and rye recipe sounds yummy, but I think I will pass on the cow manure cure, yikes that sounds nasty.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      must try this one

    • sudokunut profile image

      Mark Falco 

      8 years ago from Reno, Nevada

      It's not something I've ever heard of before but I'd love to give this a try.

    • Anthony Altorenna profile image

      Anthony Altorenna 

      8 years ago from Connecticut

      Your Rock & Rye recipe sounds like the perfect cocktail for a summer afternoon. Cheers!

    • savateuse profile image


      8 years ago

      I hadn't heard of this before... Would love to try it!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Your Mom's recipe for Rock & Rye sounds good.

      I love the jar you use to make it, and the lake view! :)

    • LiteraryMind profile imageAUTHOR

      Ellen Gregory 

      8 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      @Millionairemomma: It's one of my favorite home remedies for a cough. It's a little sweet to drink regularly as a beverage---- although on the rocks it's a nice after dinner drink.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Oh wow, really fascinating. Bet it tastes delicious. Is it your favorite drink?

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Makes me wonder what great drinks have been lost to time. Definitely sounds good to drink.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Oh my, but this takes me back a lot of years to Cleveland, Ohio ... the family had rye whiskey generally at our reunions.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Sounds very interesting! Blessed by a SquidAngel!

    • Zodiacimmortal profile image


      8 years ago from Yonkers, NY

      So want to try to make, but the Rock candy is a pain.. (I have a mini kit but no place to make it w/o someone nocking it over)

      added to fave lenses lens in Food (next update is next week, prob by wed.)

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Came back to google +1 this - you never know when a someone might need a good glass of Rock & Rye.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Ha, this drink would separate the girls from the women! I usually stick to wine, however my best friend always loved a good scotch (she passed away, unfortunately - not from the scotch though). Thanks for such an education too. Take good care, Rose

    • Commandrix profile image


      8 years ago from Benson, IL

      Your Grandma sure had an odd remedy for anemia, but then, it was a different generation and a different culture. My sister spent a year in Sweden, and she says it's normal for teens to have a drink or two when socializing! I guess as long as they don't overdo it...Anyhow, this is an interesting Lens.


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