The Rob Roy Cocktail: A Manhattan with a Kilt

Amy Kundrat

When the winter doldrums set in, and the temperatures flirt with zero, I set my sights firmly on brown spirits. Whisky, not whiskey, to be exact. A dram will usually do the trick, but on occasion I like to sully that perfect spirit by making it the foundation of a Rob Roy cocktail.

If you can reconcile the fact that you’re meddling with the perfection that is scotch, with sweet vermouth and bitters, then you’ve found your perfect century-old cocktail. It’s essentially a Manhattan with a kilt, which is a fitting description seeing as it was created in New York’s Waldorf Astoria in 1894 for an opera based on the Scottish folk hero and outlaw Robert Roy MacGregor.

There is something about peated scotch and a roaring fire, but an unpeated or blended whisky for your Rob Roy will also do the trick. If you go the peated route, I recommend Caol Ila or what I’m loving lately, Bruichladdich’s Port Charlotte. They are preferable and excellent on their own but a rare treat in a Rob Roy. Otherwise, go with a blended whisky, such as Dewar’s, Famous Grouse, or the ubiquitous Johnny Walker.

Garnish with a maraschino cherry (Luxardo cherries are tough to beat) or a lemon peel as a garnish and you’ve got your winter wingman.

Rob Roy Cocktail Recipe

2 ounces Scotch Whisky

1 ounce Sweet Vermouth

Dash of Orange Bitters or Angostura Bitters

1 Luxardo Maraschino Cherry or Lemon Peel

Directions: Stir ingredients in a shaker with ice, strain and serve straight up in a chilled cocktail glass, or in a chilled rocks glass over ice. An adjacent roaring fire is optional, but highly recommended.