Rob Roy

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Cocktail History

The Rob Roy is a classic whiskey cocktail that was, by most accounts, created at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel’s original 5th Avenue location located in New York City, New York in 1894 and named for an operetta of the same name. It’s essentially a Manhattan since it calls for whiskey, sweet vermouth, bitters, and a cherry, but it swaps out rye or bourbon for Scotch to create an entirely different flavor.

Cocktail Ingredients

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

Scotch: This is the base spirit. We chose to use The Famous Grouse because it’s a great mixing Scotch with a bit of smoky flavor but still plenty of sweetness.

Sweet Vermouth: This is a fortified wine that adds sweetness. We used Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth because it’s Alex’s favorite sweet vermouth, with dark notes of herbs, figs, licorice, cinnamon, and cocoa.

Angostura Aromatic Bitters: This is a type of spirit infused with botanicals. They add more spice and complexity to the drink and tie the other flavors together.

Cherry: This is the garnish. We prefer Luxardo Maraschino cherries because they’re some of the tastiest and highest quality cherries on the market.

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 it for its complexity and spirituousness, but like the Manhattan, he doesn’t think it’s one he’ll find himself making very often.

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.

AuthorThe Essential Cocktail BookPrep Time5 minsRating

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

Method
1

Add Scotch, sweet vermouth, bitters, and 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 Angostura Aromatic Bitters
 1 Cherry

Directions

Method
1

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

2

Stir for 30-45 seconds.

3

Strain into a cocktail glass.

4

Garnish with cherry.

Rob Roy

Tools & Glassware We Recommend

More Classic Cocktails

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

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

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

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

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

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