The Rob Roy Cocktail

The Rob Roy is among the great classic cocktails of the world. It is basically a Scotch Manhattan that was inspired by an 1890’s operetta loosely based on the life of the Scottish folk hero, Rob Roy MacGregor. There are a few stories as to where the drink was invented and the bartender who created it, though speculation is that it was at The Waldorf Astoria hotel between 1894 and 1985 while the show was running (at least that is the Waldorf’s story).

In this age of Bourbon loving, Mad Men inspired Manhattan drinkers it would seem that the Roy Roy should be enjoying its day in the sun as well. We like to build on the classic concept or the Rob Roy, embellishing the original recipe by taking advantage of the great range of Single Malt scotches that are available today that were not options in the roaring 1890’s

The Savoy Cocktail Book, Circa 1930 called for equal parts of Scotch Whiskey and Italian Vermouth with a dash of Angostura Bitters. Over the years these proportions have been adjusted to more like 2 ounces of Scotch to ¾ ounces of Italian (sweet) Vermouth. As well, the same time accepted Manhattan variations of “sweet”, “dry” or “perfect” apply equally to the Rob Roy. Below we offer you the Rob Roy recipe as we make it behind our own bar today, as well as the classic variations and a couple of fun twists.

This coming Sunday is Super Bowl and with a good bottle of Scotch, a bit of Vermouth and bitters you can create this easily executed cocktail to offer your friends as an option to that other whiskey/vermouth cocktail.


The Classic Rob Roy

In a cocktail shaker filled half way with ice add:

  • 2 Ounces Well-Bred Blended Scotch Whiskey (we like Johnnie Walker Green 15 yr.)
  • ¾ Ounce Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth (or your favorite)

Stir to chill without over diluting the cocktail.  Strain into a stemmed Rob Roy glass.  Top with One Dash of Angostura Bitters.  Garnish with speared Luxardo maraschino cherries.

Standard Variations:

Sweet ~ Equal Parts Sweet Vermouth to Scotch

Dry ~ Substitute ¾ Dry Vermouth for the Sweet Vermouth (lemon twist for cherry)

Perfect ~ Equal parts of Dry & Sweet Vermouth


Fun Twists on the Original:

Use Laphroaig 10-Year- Old Single Malt for an Ultra-Smokey Rob Roy

Use Your Favorite Highland Single Malt for a Premium Twist on the Original

Substitute a dash of Fee Brothers Chocolate or Orange Bitter instead of Angostura

Substitute ¾ ounces or Cynar Amaro for the Sweet Vermouth to add an Extra Bitter Bite


The Sky is the Limit, Experiment Until You Find Your Own Personal Expression of the Drink.