Rob Roy Cocktail: A Simple Way to Enjoy a Great Scotch

Rob Roy Cocktail
The classic Rob Roy is a great after dinner cocktail that shows off your favorite Scotch whisky. Photo: S&C Design Studios
  • 3 mins
  • Prep: 3 mins,
  • Cook: 0 mins
  • Yield: 1 serving
Ratings (34)

The Rob Roy is, quite simply, a Scotch Manhattan. It is the choice of whiskey that distinguishes it from all other 'Manhattans' and it is a nice way to spruce up a good Scotch.

Keeping with the Manhattan recipe, the Rob Roy simply pairs your favorite Scotch with sweet vermouth. It is basic, easy, and one of those popular cocktails that every good bartender should know how to make.

Whether you choose a blended or single malt Scotch is a matter of preference, though a blended whiskey is often the more popular choice. Either way, the simplicity of the drink allows the whiskey to shine through, so be sure to make a wise choice. This is one cocktail where your premium Scotch will not go to waste.

What You'll Need

How to Make It

Make the Rob Roy Your Way

Following the other great classic cocktails that use the spirit-vermouth combination, the Rob Roy can be adapted to fit your personal taste. You can also use any of these variations for a particular scotch.

While a 'Perfect' Rob Roy may work best with a blended scotch like Johnnie Walker Black Label, you may want to use sweet vermouth alone for a single malt like Laphroaig 10YO.

It will be a matter of personal preference and there are endless combinations available.

  • Use more or less sweet vermouth as desired. Some drinkers prefer a 3:1 ratio or even less vermouth.
  • This drink can also be served on the rocks in an old-fashioned glass and built right in the glass. For a slower dilution, use an ice ball.
  • Dry Rob Roy: Substitute dry vermouth for the sweet vermouth and garnish with an olive.
  • Perfect Rob Roy: Use a 1/4 ounce of both sweet and dry vermouth and garnish with a lemon twist.

History of the Rob Roy

The Rob Roy was created at the famous New York City Waldorf-Astoria in the 1890's. As is the case with many classic cocktails of the time, this one debuted along with the 1894 Broadway show, "Rob Roy," which told the story of Robert Roy MacGregor, the Scottish Robin Hood of the 18th-century.

The cocktail was also instrumental in introducing the American public to blended Scotch whisky.

How Strong is the Rob Roy?

The true alcohol content of any Rob Roy cocktail is going to depend on the whisky you pour as well as the amount of vermouth you choose to include. Nonetheless, we can estimate that the average Rob Roy made with an 80-proof blended scotch in the standard recipe given is around 29% ABV (58 proof).

As you can see, it is not what we would consider a light cocktail, though 'up' drinks that include alcohol alone rarely are. That is why drinks like the Rob Roy are served in such small portions, in this case slightly less than 3 ounces.