The Rob Roy cocktail is a classic Scotch whisky drink with sweet vermouth and bitters. This smoky sweet drink is one that every whisky lover should try. Chances are you’ll love it at first sip and make it again and again.
Stir Things up with the Classic Rob Roy Cocktail
PREP TIME 5 min
Serve the Rob Roy cocktail strained into a chilled coupe glass, or on the rocks.
Store your vermouth in the fridge once opened. It should keep for 2 to 3 months.
Luxardo cherries are perfect for adding that sophisticated touch to classic cocktails.
Add all ingredients to a mixing glass filled with ice
Stir until chilled
Strain into a coupe
Garnish with a Luxardo cherry
The only Rob Roy cocktail ingredients you need
There are only three ingredients in a classic Rob Roy cocktail recipe, which is why the quality of what you use matters.
First on the list, and one of the most essential ingredients, is Scotch whisky. If you use a poor-quality brand, it will show up in your drink. If you use a great one, your Rob Roy cocktail recipe will shine—and Glen Grant Single Malt Scotch Whisky will definitely do this cocktail justice without breaking the bank.
If you’re familiar with whiskey cocktails, you’ll know that the Rob Roy is a spin-off of the classic 3-ingredient Manhattan and uses the same ingredients, except it swaps out American whiskey for the Scottish kind. This adds a lovely smoky twist and a completely different drinking experience.
The next ingredient is sweet vermouth, and you also want quality here. For our Rob Roy cocktail recipe, we chose Cinzano Rosso for its smooth, earthy spices, and rich red wine, vanilla, and black cherry aroma. It just works. And, if you love the taste of sweet vermouth as much as we do, be sure to check out the Negroni and Hanky Panky cocktails.
The last ingredient is bitters, and just a few dashes will cut through the smoky sweetness of the drink in a beautifully subtle way. And if you love bitters in cocktails, check out our guide to using it.
How to make a Rob Roy cocktail?
The Rob Roy cocktail ingredients are pretty straightforward, and it is an easy cocktail to master. All you’ll do is stir everything together and then strain it into a chilled glass. A coupe is a classic choice.
Here are a few more tips to help you make this classy drink shine:
- If your budget doesn’t allow for a good bottle of Single malt Scotch, you can still make an equally delicious Rob Roy with a blended whiskey.
- For the most classic result, use a Luxardo cherry for garnish. While you might be tempted to use a maraschino variation, this bright red cherry has no place in this sophisticated whisky drink. The Luxardo cherry is perfect for that signature touch in craft cocktails.
The History of the Rob Roy cocktail
The Rob Roy cocktail history is a fun one! Legend has it that this classic cocktail was invented in 1894 in New York City and was named after the premiere of an operetta based on Scottish folk hero Rob Roy MacGregor – the most (in)famous member of the ‘Wild MacGregor’ clan. He was basically a Scottish Robinhood and was given the name ‘Roy’ because of his curly red hair.
Over the years, a few variations of the Rob Roy cocktail recipe made their appearance, and these are two of our favorites:
- Bobby Burns: This recipe is similar to the Rob Roy, and to make one, you mix together equal parts whisky and vermouth, and instead of bitters, add half an ounce of Benedictine – a French herbal liqueur.
- White Rob Roy: This modern version uses white vermouth and is a lighter version of the original.
What is the difference between a Manhattan and a Rob Roy?
The iconic Manhattan cocktail is similar to a Rob Roy in that it uses the same three ingredients but replaces Scotch with bourbon. We love using Wild Turkey Rye because it gives the Manhattan bold vanilla and spicy citrus flavors. While swapping out Scotch for bourbon might seem like a slight adjustment to your Rob Roy cocktail, the taste of these two famous spirits is very different.