Superior Milk Washed Rock & Rye

By Jonathan Laurel June 29, 2018 Cocktails

cherry, citrus, clove, menthol, bittersweet

MGP rye whiskey, cherry, orange, apricot, lemon verbena, horehound, sugar, clove, cinnamon, orange bitters, Douglas fir bitters

We previously featured this cocktail in Volume #2: Lost Ingredients and decided to come at it from a new angle in Volume #3.

A little online research will tell you the provenance of the Rock & Rye cocktail, especially since its resurrection in the current historical cocktail renaissance has made information about it easy to access. The Rock & Rye was a product of America’s earliest saloons and appears in Harry Johnson’s Bartender’s Manual in 1888. The original cocktail was a homemade whiskey based liqueur, spiced and sweetened probably to mask poor whiskey. Traditional wisdom compares the original to an “Old Fashioned in a bottle.” It was as ubiquitous in the American bar as many other staples now lost, like Amer Picon, which made it a perfect candidate for our Lost Ingredient themed menu (Vol #2).

We liked our house Rock & Rye so much we decided to rethink and transform it for Volume #3. We adjusted the recipe a small amount—adding douglas fir bitters, apricot, horehound, and our house picon—and then milk washing the whole batch. The process traps tannins and solids from the cocktail in a web of milk fats, which act like a molecular sieve.

The result is a clarified, much softer and more herbaceous cocktail than we started with. We’ve also added candied ginger to our garnish, a shout out to the rock candy garnish that gave the original its name.

milk washed rock & rye