The practice of flavouring rye whiskey with rock candy, popular in American bars in the late 19th century, has been revived in a new product that has arrived in the UK.
Mister Katz’s Rock & Rye is made by combining an aged rye whiskey, made with rye from New York state, with rock candy sugar, dried cherries, cinnamon and dried orange peel. At 32.5% ABV, it can be drunk on its own or in cocktails.
It was created by Allen Katz of New York Distilling Company, which has created other unique spirits such as Perry’s Tot Navy Strength Gin, the first navy-strength gin to be launched in the US in over 100 years. It has been launched in the UK through Maverick Drinks.
For its latest product, it was inspired by the rock and rye that was served in saloons in the US in the late 19th and early 20th century, tempering the roughness of young whiskey with rock candy.
A bottled version was released by Charles Jacquin in 1884, and various blends were created over the years by bartenders adding citrus peels and spices to young rye.
The drink faded from public consciousness in the mid-20th century but has begun to re-appear on the heels of the rye whiskey resurgence.
After the launch of Mister Katz’s Rock & Rye in the US in November last year, it is one of the four finalists for best new spirit or cocktail ingredient in the Spirited Awards being held at the Tales of the Cocktail festival in New Orleans this month.
The bottle’s label has been designed by branding guru Milton Glaser, telling the story of a Mister Katz who is an amalgamation of Allen’s father and grandfather – a man who “grew up on the B&O railroad” and enjoyed “the ponies, chewing tobacco, malts at the drugstore, and an evening’s treat of Rock & Rye”.
Measures are in US ounces
Created by Nate Dumas, bar director of the Shanty at the New York Distilling Company
2oz Mister Katz’s Rock & Rye
1 dash Angostura Bitters
1 dash Orange Bitters
Combine ingredients in an Old Fashioned glass. Stir over a large ice cube.
1¼ oz Mister Katz’s Rock & Rye
1oz Glenlivet 12 Year Old whisky
¾oz Fresh lemon juice
½oz Real grenadine
Shake ingredients over ice and strain into a Collins glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with a lemon twist. Serve with s straw.
1¼oz Mister Katz’s Rock & Rye
1oz Dorothy Parker American Gin
1oz Martini Rossi sweet vermouth
Stir ingredients over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist.
The Harpers Ferry
1oz Mister Katz’s Rock & Rye
¾oz Pierre Ferrand Cognac 1840
½oz Botran Rum
¾oz Fresh lemon juice
½oz Simple dyrup
Shake ingredients over ice and fine strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Lightly garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.