Rock and Rye

An old-school cocktail of rye whiskey infused with rock candy and fragrant herbs and spices

Photo: Johnny Autry


    • 1 750 ml bottle Reservoir Rye Whiskey

    • Peel of ½ orange, plus more for garnish

    • Peel of 1 lemon, plus more for garnish (optional)

    • 10 dried cherries

    • ½ cinnamon stick

    • 1 clove

    • 1 star anise

    • 1 tsp. horehound

    • 1 6-inch piece Cheerwine rock candy (see recipe below) or any cherry-flavored variety

  • For the Cheerwine Rock Candy

    • 2 cups water

    • 6 cups sugar

    • 12 oz. Cheerwine soda


  1. Combine first 5 ingredients in a glass bottle or pitcher and infuse for 3 days. Add remaining ingredients and infuse for 24 hours more. Fine-strain mixture into a clean glass bottle. Serve on the rocks in an old-fashioned glass with orange or lemon peel for garnish.

  2. For the Cheerwine Rock Candy:
    Wet a 6-inch-long piece of thick string with water, roll it in sugar to coat, and tie a clean metal washer or paper clip to one end. Set aside.

  3. Add 2 cups water to a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Add sugar, 1 cup at a time, and stir to dissolve after each cup. When all sugar is fully dissolved, remove pan from heat and let liquid cool for 10 minutes.


  4. Then, fill a mason jar with sugar-water mixture, and insert the string, weighted end down. Place a Popsicle stick or a length of tape across the mouth of the mason jar and affix the free end of the string to it so that the string hangs vertically in the jar. Set jar in a cool, dark space and wait 4 to 7 days for crystals to grow.

  5. Once crystals have formed, transfer rock candy from the mason jar to a small plate.

  6. Meanwhile, simmer Cheerwine soda in a small saucepan until liquid is reduced to roughly ½ cup syrup. Remove pan from heat, let cool, then pour syrup over rock candy to fully coat crystals. Allow rock candy to harden at least 24 hours.

Cocktail recipe from John Maher of the former Rogue Gentlemen in Richmond, Virginia