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My Family's Best Rock and Rye Recipe

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

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.

Rock and Rye Ingredients

Rock and Rye Ingredients

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

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).

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Rock Candy

Rock Candy

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

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

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