Back in the 1800s, before NyQuil and flu shots were available, people used to treat the common cold with a stiff drink. A glass of rock and rye (rye whiskey) was considered a cure-all. The rock (of rock and rye) was a cube of crystalized rock-candy sugar and piece of fruit to make the rye medicine go down. Even those who didn’t normally drink would sip the concoction as a cough and cold remedy.
Publications including the New York Times in 1896 recommended it: “Every experienced physician knows that pure malt whiskey is nature’s great remedy for stimulating the vital forces and building up the health.” The arrival of decongestants and flu shots eventually diluted the taste for rock and rye but it’s now making a comeback. Bacardi makes Hochstadter’s Slow & Low Rock & Rye, and The New York Distilling company recently launched its Mister Katz’s Rock & Rye.