Rob Roy

An article I wrote for Chilled Magazine.

According to bartending legend, the Rob Roy was created in 1894 by a bartender at the Waldorf Hotel in New York City. The cocktail was named in honor of the premiere of Rob Roy, an operetta written by composer Reginald De Koven. The show was based off the folk hero and outlaw, Robert Roy MacGregor, or simply put, Rob Roy. Both the operetta and the drink were equally successful, but the cocktail has long outperformed De Koven’s famous show.

The recipe for the Rob Roy, which uses Scotch whisky as its primary spirit, mixed with sweet vermouth and Angostura bitters, an addition to the drink, first appeared in The Savoy Book, published by The Savoy Hotel of London in 1930. It mentions the drink’s popularity in Scotland, especially in honor of the fictional Rob Roy, also known as the Scottish version of Robin Hood.

The Rob Roy is similar to the king of cocktails, the Manhattan, but is made exclusively with Scotch whisky instead of rye or bourbon. It’s common to think the Rob Roy stole the Manhattan’s recipe (Rob Roy was a bandit, you know), and is nothing more than a Manhattan made with scotch. Sometimes it’s even referred to as a Scotch Manhattan. Basically, that’s what it is, but that one switch of rye or bourbon for scotch in the mix makes for a whole different taste, as most whiskey drinkers will be sure to point out. For most, the Rob Roy tends to be drier, with a smoky texture, and not as smooth or sweet as the Manhattan, but the Scotch really emphasizes the flavors and aromas of the vermouths. Because it’s got such a strong flavor, the Rob Roy makes for a great afternoon cocktail, on its own, or as an after dinner beverage. Read More