The Rob Roy, as a cocktail, is also-ran. It was born within the shadow of Manhattan, actually and figuratively, and has stayed there its complete life. It’s, nevertheless, regardless of this, extraordinarily well-known and sometimes the one scotch-based cocktail an individual can title. Why does it persist? As a result of the cocktail, like that of Rob Roy himself, is the story that retains getting informed.
Earlier than the Rob Roy was a drink, there was Robert “Roy” MacGregor, born in Scotland in 1671. He’s typically known as the “Scottish Robin Hood” and his legacy is that of a roguish outlaw—he participated within the Jacobite rising, labored in some type of extralegal cattle safety racket, ran afoul of the occasional Duke and died in 1734.
Extra from Robb Report
However one thing on this story stirs the Scottish nationwide spirit, and his title is revived 84 years after his demise, in 1818, for the poet Sir Walter Scott’s dramatic novel concerning the grim realities of Highland life from the earlier century. Contemplating Scott’s narrator was named Frank Osbaldistone, it is smart that he would select as an alternative to title his novel after an occasional however pivotal character within the plot, one with a snappier title: Rob Roy.
Seventy-six years after that, the title is revived once more, this time for a “romantic-comic operetta” written by Reginald De Koven and Harry B. Smith. The duo had not too long ago loved success with a present about Robin Hood, and it appears they forged about for related matters to discover—their stage efficiency of Rob Roy has little if something to do with Scott’s novel, however shares a title and a titular character. The present for 5 months at Manhattan’s Herald Sq. Theatre till the spring of 1895.
That is the place our cocktail emerges. Simply over the Hudson River in New Jersey, actually throughout the road from the place the Manhattan ferry would drop you, a salesman for a model of scotch whisky referred to as Usher’s walks right into a bar. He finds a number of patrons ingesting Manhattans with rye, candy vermouth and bitters. They invite him to have a Manhattan. He replies with one thing like how he solely imbibes the sleek, strong taste of that good Usher’s Scotch Whisky. Truthful sufficient, they are saying, and fee a spherical of Manhattans with the scotch. After what one imagines was a substantial amount of buzzing and hawing, it’s determined that it is a most agreeable tipple and deserves a reputation. Somebody suggests they title it after a well-liked Scottish play of the time and the Rob Roy is born.
And so it stays. A Rob Roy is a scotch Manhattan—at all times has been, at all times will likely be. Admittedly, the whole lot is a riff on one thing (the Manhattan itself is simply an Old Fashioned with vermouth as an alternative of sugar), however in contrast to different riffs, the Rob Roy is sort of invariably cited as such and it has this lineage to account for its persistent fame. In all probability 98 % of the time the cocktail will get talked about is as a solution to exhibit a small quantity of information concerning the Manhattan (“you recognize, with scotch it’s referred to as a Rob Roy”) and in my greater than fifteen years of tending bar, I can depend on my fingers what number of occasions I’ve made it.
Select the fitting scotch and vermouth, although, and also you’ll discover, like our nameless bar patrons did in 1895, that the Rob Roy is a pleasant little cocktail and nicely value ingesting. While you use a light blended scotch, I’d agree that it’s merely a facsimile of the Manhattan. However harness a contact of Scotland’s inimitable peat, and the Rob Roy actually steps into its personal, the vermouth providing sweetness to the scotch’s smoke, their interaction each scrumptious and distinctive. It’s a scotch Manhattan, certain, however a wonderful one, with a narrative value telling.
Add all elements to a mixing glass with ice and stir for 15-ish seconds for small ice or 25ish seconds for giant ice. Pressure right into a coupe or cocktail glass and garnish with a cherry.
NOTES ON INGREDIENTS
Scotch Whisky: For me, this cocktail completely sings whenever you use a scotch with a small-to-medium quantity of smoke. Johnnie Walker Black is a ubiquitous and scrumptious model of this and makes a beautiful Rob Roy. Additionally good can be the costlier single malts like Coal Ila, Talisker, Springbank and others. Be cautious of an excessive amount of sherry affect within the scotch—totally sherried malts have a sweetness that will get amplified by the vermouth and will be too wealthy and clingy on the midpalate.
Candy Vermouth: For a light or sherry-aged unpeated scotch, use one thing mild and lithe, like Dolin Rouge or Cinzano Rosso. However for one thing largely unsherried with a little bit of smoke (my above whisky suggestions), seize Carpano Antica. Smoke is energy, and also you want a giant vermouth to face as much as it.
Bitters: Plenty of individuals say orange bitters, however I disagree, I feel citrus is distracting and doesn’t belong. You’ll additionally see a number of individuals citing Peychaud’s Bitters, a chunk of recommendation that, like many persistent items of unhealthy cocktail recommendation, got here from a tax legal professional named David Embury within the late ’40s, who wrote a cocktail e book having by no means stepped foot behind a bar. Use Angostura. It’s referred to as for by title in most recipes—and for good cause.
Garnish: As with orange bitters, I don’t actually like citrus right here. Stick the cocktail’s roots and garnish it as you’ll a Manhattan, with a high-quality cocktail cherry.
Better of Robb Report