Named after folk hero Rob Roy Macgregor, the Rob Roy has quite an interesting background. The drink made its first appearance in 1894 in Manhattan’s Waldorf Astoria. Many would argue that the name was borrowed from a hit play, ‘Rob Roy’ hosted by the Herald Square, located close to the original Waldorf. The operetta possibly intended to make connections with the bar by lending the name.
The advent of the cocktail marked the inception of blended Scotch in the United States. Rob Roy is often referred as the Scotch Manhattan, as it holds close resemblance to the all-time favorite ‘Manhattan’. The ‘scotch’ in Rob Roy substitutes the ‘bourbon’ in its counterpart. Originally, Manhattan was served with rye, before bourbon made an entry. Two introduce aromatics, Angostura bitters is added to Rob Roy. A variant, called Highland, uses orange bitter in place of Angostura.
The cocktail is made with sweet vermouth, making it a sweet drink. A variant exists with dry vermouth too. The perfect blend of ‘sweet’ and ‘dry’, makes the Rob Roy a hard-to-turn-down cocktail.
Mix your own Rob Roy
Use blended Scotch whisky, which makes your job easier in the shaker. The smoky or peaty scotches are best sipped without mixing.
Add two ounces of blended scotch in a shaker filled with ice. Add 1 ounce of vermouth and 2 dashes of Angostura or orange bitters. Stir the ingredients well for about 20 seconds and strain into a martini, or other attractive cocktail glass. For garnish, use a cherry or a lemon twist. Some deviate a bit from the typical, and go for an orange peel for garnishing. Refrigerate the vermouth for a reasonable period of time so that the freshness is retained.
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With a name as literal as that to boot, one can only imagine the ‘auspicious’ circumstances under which this cheeky cocktail recipe was born. Back in the 19th century, the moralists had a temporary victory over ‘societal evils’ when a ban was imposed on the production, import, and sale of alcohol.