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.
Whiskies distilled in the Islands lend a distinct character of the sea to a dram. A sip of an Island whisky will leave you with the scent of the salty mist of waves crashing onto rugged cliffs. Of the seven hundred or so islands dotting the cold seas around the Scottish mainland, only a handful of them are owned by distilleries.
The ingredients in a Harvard cocktail are reminiscent of a Manhattan. Indeed, they are almost identical, with a couple of variations for distinction. A Harvard doesn’t have the trademark maraschino cherry garnish of a Manhattan. Rather, a thin twist of lemon peel is perched on its rim.