The 3-Ingredient Rob Roy Is a Gateway Cocktail to Scotch

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The Rob Roy is a classic cocktail that is essentially a Manhattan with a twist: it swaps rye whiskey for Scotch. Let’s break down the key points of this article about the Rob Roy cocktail

Overview and Origins

  • The Rob Roy is a straightforward cocktail made up of Scotch, sweet vermouth, and bitters.
  • There’s some ambiguity regarding its origin. While one theory suggests it was first showcased at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in 1894, another claims its roots trace back to a New York bartender’s recipe published in The New York Sun in 1873.
  • The cocktail’s name is inspired by the Rob Roy operetta, which was about the Scottish folk hero of the same name.

Ingredient Choice and Variations

  • Adam Montgomerie, bar manager at Hawksmoor NYC, emphasizes the importance of quality ingredients and finding the right balance between Scotch, vermouth, and bitters.
  • Scotch choices can range from lighter blended whiskeys to rich, sherried single malts. Dewar’s 12-Year-Old, Clynelish 14-Year, and GlenDronach 12-year-old Scotch aged in Sherry casks are some examples.
  • Variations exist, like the Bobby Burns which incorporates Benedictine, an herbal liqueur.

Food Pairing

  • The Rob Roy is a versatile cocktail when it comes to food pairing. It goes well with red meats, especially those cooked over charcoal, and can also complement sweet items like quality dark chocolate.

Recipe by Adam Montgomerie


  • 1 1/4 ounces Johnnie Walker Black Label
  • 3/4 ounce Clynelish 14 Year Single Malt
  • 1 ounce Cocchi Vermouth di Torino
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • 1 dash Saline Solution (10 grams of kosher salt dissolved in 100 milliliters of water)


  1. Add all ingredients to a mixing glass.
  2. Stir until properly chilled and diluted.
  3. Strain into a Nick & Nora glass from the freezer.
  4. Garnish with a coin of lemon peel.

In summary, the Rob Roy is an elegant, versatile cocktail with a rich history. Its balance and simplicity make it an approachable introduction to Scotch for those who might find the spirit too strong or peaty on its own. Whether you’re a Scotch aficionado or new to the spirit, the Rob Roy offers an enjoyable drinking experience.


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