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Better living through mixology.

If I spent any more time in my grandfather’s era, I’d probably disappear from this one … just crumble away and vanish, like the edges of an old newspaper.

I have had an inexplicable whim for quite a while now to try rock and rye — that old-school combination of rye whiskey, rock candy and citrus that folk wisdom says can cure (or forestall) colds.

Only a few companies make rock and rye nowadays, I’m led to understand, and Pennsylvania’s hit-and-miss state stores don’t carry any of them.

I don’t imagine there will be a renaissance of rock and rye, either. There’s already a rye-whiskey boom going on, and the folks who distill the stuff aren’t going to turn it into your great-grandpa’s favorite serum when they can make plenty of money selling it straight.

So … as Phil-Hartman-as-Telly-Savalas said: “When there isn’t any action, then you gotta make your own.”

I recently bought my first bottle of rye in a while, and coincidentally caught my first cold in a while. And so the die was cast.


I decided to work off this recipe, published roughly a year ago on the Boston Globe’s Straight Up bartending blog.

In addition to a bottle of rye, the recipe calls for one sliced-up orange; half a sliced-up lemon; a six-inch strand of rock candy; and an ounce of Angostura bitters.

(Other recipes I’ve seen call for things like horehound throat drops and cloves.¬† I’m not gonna get quite that fancy yet.)

The rock candy was the hardest thing to find. It wasn’t in the local supermarket; I had to hit up a marvelously old-school candy stand at the Allentown Fairgrounds Farmers Market. I shoulda bought some sour-apple licorice to sip my rock and rye through, but the thought didn’t occur to me.

Earlier tonight I decanted everything into a pitcher, shook it but good, and left it to soak.

It’s supposed to take two or three days to dissolve the rock candy. Which is just as well, since professional obligations require me not to drink over the weekend anyway.

On Monday, I will feel better.

One way or the other.



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