Rob Roy

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Cocktail History

The Rob Roy is a classic cocktail that is believed to have been created in 1894 at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel’s original 5th Avenue location in New York City, New York. Named for an operetta that was popular at the time, the recipe is essentially a Manhattan that is also made with whiskey, sweet vermouth, bitters, and a cherry, but it swaps out rye or bourbon for Scotch to create an entirely different flavor profile.

Cocktail Ingredients

To make this cocktail, you’ll need the following ingredients:

Scotch: This is a type of whiskey made in Scotland with malt or grain, spices, alcohol, and water. We used The Famous Grouse Blended Scotch Whisky because its smoky and sweet flavor works well in cocktails. For a mocktail version of this drink, try Escape Mocktails Green Label Single Malt Whiskey Non-Alcoholic Alternative in place of the whisky.

Sweet Vermouth: This is a fortified wine made with grapes, sugar, botanicals, herbs, sugar, and alcohol. We used Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth because it’s a high quality vermouth with dark notes of herbs, figs, licorice, cinnamon, and cocoa. For a mocktail version of this drink, try Lyre’s Non-Alcoholic Apéritif Rosso in place of the sweet vermouth.

Aromatic Bitters: This is a food product made with botanicals, herbs, and alcohol. We used Angostura Aromatic Bitters. For a mocktail version of this drink, try All The Bitter Alcohol-Free Aromatic Bitters in place of the aromatic bitters.

Cherry: This is a fruit that has been soaked in brandy and rich syrup. We used Luxardo Maraschino Cherries because they’re high quality and delicious.

Bartending Tools

To make this cocktail, you’ll need the following bar tools:

Jigger: This is used to measure and pour ingredients. We used the Japanese jigger from the A Bar Above 14-Piece Silver Bar Set.

Mixing Glass: This is used to hold the ingredients while they’re being stirred. We used the Viski 17 oz Cocktail Mixing Glass.

Bar Spoon: This is used to stir ingredients. We used the Barfly Stainless Steel Teardrop Bar Spoon.

Julep Strainer: This is used to strain out ice and solid ingredients after the cocktail is stirred. We used the A Bar Above Julep Strainer.

Cocktail Pick: This is used to hold the garnish. We used one from the I-MART Stainless Steel Cocktail Pick Set.

Tasting Notes

The Rob Roy features smoky, woodsy aromas of Scotch which lead into a flavor that combines those elements with vanilla-tinged vermouth to create a slightly sweet, spirituous taste. On the finish, the herbaceous bitters then show up and leave a savory note reminiscent of sherry in the throat.

Our Opinion of This Cocktail Recipe: We did both like this recipe better than the classic Manhattan. Kendall, who isn’t typically a fan of spirit-forward Scotch cocktails like this, gave her “It-didn’t-make-me-wince” stamp of approval. Meanwhile, Alex enjoyed the Rob Roy for its complexity and spirituousness, but like the Manhattan, he doesn’t think it’s one he’ll find himself making very often.

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Which of our palates is yours most like?
Find out if your palate is most similar to Alex’s or Kendall’s by answering five questions.

Take Our Quiz →

Alex’s Take: ⭐⭐⭐
“As somebody who’s pretty middling on the classic Manhattan, the Rob Roy is a nice departure from that into similar but still slightly new territory. The Scotch we used was The Famous Grouse, and that pairs well with the Carpano Antica because it already has a fairly sweet flavor of its own. It also doesn’t lend too much smokiness to the cocktail, though it does definitely create a whole different drink. Overall, I would say I did really enjoy this for its forced slowness and contemplative flavors; however, like its cousin, I likely won’t reach for or order it very often.”

Kendall’s Take: ⭐⭐
“I’m not a fan of Scotch yet, but I want it on record that this is the first whisky-forward drink that did not make me cough or wince when I first tasted it. Maybe my palate is finally developing? That aside, I’m still not likely to request the Rob Roy again because it is seriously Scotch flavored and boozier than I prefer my cocktails be. I did appreciate its complexity though and liked it more than other Scotch drinks I’ve had.”

Recipe

This cocktail recipe was adapted from The Essential Cocktail Book: A Complete Guide to Modern Drinks by the editors of PUNCH and Megan Krigbaum.

Sale
The Essential Cocktail Book: A Complete Guide to Modern Drinks with 150 Recipes
The Essential Cocktail Book: A Complete Guide to Modern Drinks with 150 Recipes
Hardcover Book; Editors of PUNCH (Author); English (Publication Language); 352 Pages – 09/05/2017 (Publication Date) – Ten Speed Press (Publisher)
$13.05 Amazon Prime

AuthorThe Essential Cocktail Book

Yields1 ServingPrep Time5 mins

Ingredients
 2 oz Scotch Whisky
 1 oz Sweet Vermouth
 2 dashes Aromatic Bitters
 1 Cherry

Method
1

Add Scotch, sweet vermouth, bitters, and cubed ice to a mixing glass.

2

Stir for 30-45 seconds.

3

Strain into a cocktail glass.

4

Garnish with cherry.

Ingredients

Ingredients
 2 oz Scotch Whisky
 1 oz Sweet Vermouth
 2 dashes Aromatic Bitters
 1 Cherry

Directions

Method
1

Add Scotch, sweet vermouth, bitters, and cubed ice to a mixing glass.

2

Stir for 30-45 seconds.

3

Strain into a cocktail glass.

4

Garnish with cherry.

Rob Roy

Make It a Mocktail: Use Escape Mocktails Green Label Single Malt Whiskey Non-Alcoholic Alternative in place of the whisky, Lyre’s Non-Alcoholic Apéritif Rosso in place of the sweet vermouth, and All The Bitter Alcohol-Free Aromatic Bitters in place of the aromatic bitters to try a booze-free version of this drink.

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More Classic Cocktails

If you like this classic cocktail recipe, here are a few others we’ve tried that you may enjoy:

Blood & Sand Cocktail Recipe

Blood & Sand: A Scotch cocktail made with cherry liqueur, sweet vermouth, orange juice, and a cherry

Boo Radley Cocktail Recipe

Boo Radley: A bourbon cocktail made with Cynar, cherry liqueur, a lemon peel, and an orange peel

Brain Duster Cocktail Recipe

Brain Duster: A rye cocktail made with absinthe, sweet vermouth, Angostura aromatic bitters, and a lemon twist

Brooklyn Cocktail Recipe

Brooklyn: A rye cocktail made with dry vermouth, maraschino liqueur, and Amer Picon

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