The (Perfect) Rob Roy Cocktail

rob roy cocktail

The Rob Roy is an old cocktail. It's a symbol of the introduction of blended scotch to the United Stated in the 1890's. Invented at the Waldorf Hotel in New York for a Broadway show with the same name as the drink, a Rob Roy is similar to a Manhattan with the bourbon substituted for blended scotch.

When just getting started mixing cocktails, its common to look at a recipe and think, “That’s just a Manhattan made with scotch.” And you’d be correct, but you’re underestimating the power one change in a cocktail can make. The scotch produces a drink that is less sweet than its bourbon counterpart, and one I personally find to be smoother.

This recipe is for a “Perfect Rob Roy,” meaning we split the vermouth half and half between sweet vermouth and dry. If you just order a “Rob Roy” it will be made only with sweet vermouth, and a “Dry Rob Roy” will be made with only dry vermouth.

A Perfect Rob Roy Cocktail
» 1.5 oz blended scotch whisky
» .75 oz vermouth: half sweet, half dry
» Dash of Angostura Bitters
» Maraschino cherry or lemon peel

Add the ingredients to a tall glass or cocktail shaker with ice and stir. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with cherry or lemon peel.

Andrew is the founder and editor of Primer. He's a graduate of American University and currently lives in Los Angeles. Read more about Primer on our About page. On Instagram: @andrewsnavely and @primermagazine.

  • barak

    I love manhattan , but just as you said: one ingredient can change the taste as it was new cocktail.

  • Alex K

    This is my go-to drink on almost all occasions. Jack and Ginger is up there too, but nothing beats a good Rob Roy.

  • Samantha

    I will try this recipe at home it makes me wonder what does it taste. thanks for this cocktail recipe.

  • Danica Stone

    Seems like a great party drink. Is this better with ice or just plain cocktail?

  • Ella Martin

    I will definitely try this mix this week end, my friends will be surprised for this new type of drink.

  • Kory

    @Danica, it depends upon how you like it. It is traditionally served in a rocks glass; but is just as nice in stemware.

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  • Bill Stuart

    I make both a Manhattan and Rob Roy using 3oz of whiskey and 1oz of good French vermouth — bitters of course — and always a twist of lemon rather than a cherry. This measure is great for the new larger martini glasses.
    Stir over large ice cubes and never shake a martini, Manhattan, or Rob Roy. Use several large ice cubes to reduce the watering down effect of chilling. I’ve been making these for 45 years and I still measure for precision.