The Rob Roy

by Will on September 7, 2010


If I could only ever have one single cocktail, it would be the Rob Roy.

1 1/2 oz. Scotch
3/4 oz. sweet vermouth
2 generous shakes of Angostura bitters
Serve on the rocks in an old-fashioned glass
This drink is the Manhattan’s mellower cousin. It was invented shortly after Dewar’s Scotch whiskey started being distributed in the US to the general public. Before that it was only rye, bourbon, and maybe Canadian whiskey. Coincidentally, there was, around the same time, a successful Broadway production of Walter Scott’s novel, Rob Roy.
As with Bonnie and Clyde and Jesse James, the historical Rob Roy was a murderous, thieving scoundrel, about whom almost nothing good can be said. For reasons having to do with literary conventions, people like to romanticize the doings of violent thieves. In 80 years, Bernie Madoff and the Sniper of several years past will somehow probably be remembered as folk heros.
Above: Brigitte Bardot and Serge Gainsbourg sing “Bonny and Clyde”
You’ll notice that this drink has a taste reminiscent of coca-cola. I think that’s no coincidence. Angostura bitters were a popular product, and its not surprising the drug dealers who made Coke would want to ape their distinctive taste.
There’s a lot to be said about Angostura, actually, but I’ll save that for another time.
Some people say this is a fancy drink and calls for a high-end scotch. I think that’s totally crazy. If you have a really good scotch, drink it neat or with soda water, to really savor it! The Rob Roy tastes great with anything better than Ballentine’s. Caveat: avoid Cutty Sark, despite its cool label.
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