Here’s How to Make A Rob Roy Like a Scotch Pro

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Ease into the world of Scotch by learning how to make a Rob Roy drink.

When you think of Scotch whisky, thoughts of sipping it neat in a fancy sitting room that’s slowly filling with cigar smoke as you talk business probably come to mind. Maybe there’s a bar cart in the corner filled with elegant decanters and cut crystal glassware.

And while drinking Scotch neat or on the rocks is how many devotees savor it, it’s not the most approachable way for Scotch newbies. Luckily, there’s a simple cocktail that shows off Scotch’s complex flavors while mellowing out some of its harshness: the Rob Roy.

What’s a Rob Roy Drink?

The Rob Roy is a combination of Scotch whisky, sweet vermouth, Angostura bitters and a cherry garnish. Basically, it’s a Manhattan that’s made with Scotch instead of whiskey.

According to lore, this cocktail was first served at the Waldorf Astoria in the 1890s. The name comes from the operetta “Rob Roy”, which was playing just down the street from the Waldorf.

Now that you know what goes into a Rob Roy, let’s get into how to make one—then you can try these other classic cocktails that deserve a comeback.

How to Make a Rob Roy Drink

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 oz blended Scotch whisky
  • 3/4 oz sweet vermouth
  • 3 dashes of Angostura bitters
  • 2 maraschino cherries
  • Ice

Tools:

Directions

Step 1: Mix

Pour the Scotch, sweet vermouth and Angostura bitters into the mixing glass and fill it three-quarters full with ice. Then, with the cocktail spoon, gently stir the cocktail until the ingredients are mixed and chilled, about 20-30 seconds.

Editor’s Note: We recommend using blended Scotch for this cocktail. Single malt is usually reserved for enjoying on its own and the intense flavors could throw the cocktail off. Plus, blended tends to be a more affordable choice, which is good for those just getting into Scotch.

Step 2: Pour

Pop the strainer on your cocktail glass and strain the Rob Roy into a coup, martini or lowball glass.

Step 3: Garnish

Thread two maraschino cherries (we love using Luxardo cherries when making cocktails) on a cocktail pick and lay it across the rim of your glass.

Rob Roy Variations

Like just about any cocktail, the ingredients, flavors and proportions can be adjusted to your taste. Here are some ways to make the Rob Roy your own:

  • Change the vermouth: For a more bitter cocktail, swap the sweet vermouth for dry, and garnish with a twist of lemon instead of cherries.
  • Change the bitters: Add some brightness to your cocktail by using orange bitters in place of or in addition to the classic Angostura. Or really switch things up and try a Rob Roy with these cherry bark and vanilla bitters from Bittercube.
  • Change the spirit: Using rye, bourbon or Irish whiskey technically turns this into a different cocktail, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a try! Any of our picks for the best whiskey brands would work well.
  • Change the proportions: This recipe has a 2:1 ratio of Scotch to vermouth, but that’s not your only option. Up the Scotch proportion to 3:1, 5:1 or even 15:1 for a dry Rob Roy. For a wet cocktail, increase the vermouth for a 1:1 ratio.

Now that you’ve mastered the Rob Roy drink, try your hand at making a Godfather cocktail,  white negroni or St. Germain cocktail.

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Caroline Stanko
As Editor, Caroline writes and edits all things food-related and helps produce videos for Taste of Home. When she’s not at her desk, you can probably find Caroline cooking up a feast, planning her next trip abroad or daydreaming about her golden retriever, Mac.