Rob Roy Cocktail Recipe

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Rob Roy Nutrition Facts






Created by

Nic Polotnianko

I fell in love with the art of mixology 6 years ago. Since then, I've honed my skills, crafting a myriad of cocktail recipes, and sharing my passion with other enthusiasts.

Last Updated: January 7, 2024


The Rob Roy cocktail, named after the Scottish folk hero Robert Roy MacGregor, was created in 1894 at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City. It is a variation of the classic Manhattan cocktail, but uses Scotch whisky instead of American rye whiskey.

  • The cocktail gained popularity in the early 20th century
  • It is often enjoyed by those who appreciate the smoky flavors of Scotch whisky
  • The Rob Roy is a classic cocktail that has stood the test of time

How Rob Roy Tastes?

The Rob Roy has a rich, smoky, and slightly sweet taste with a hint of bitterness from the vermouth. It has a warming and full-bodied mouthfeel, making it a perfect sipping cocktail for colder months.

Interesting facts about Rob Roy

  • The Rob Roy is sometimes called a 'Scotch Manhattan' due to its similarity to the Manhattan cocktail
  • The drink is named after the Scottish outlaw and folk hero, Rob Roy MacGregor
  • The Rob Roy can be customized by using different types of Scotch whisky, such as peaty, smoky, or fruity varieties


Scotch Whisky

The smoky, peaty goodness of Scotch is what gives the Rob Roy its backbone. Typically 2 oz is just enough to assert its dominance without overpowering the drink. If you skimp on the Scotch, the cocktail might become a vermouth-forward, rather confusing affair.

Emma Rose

Sweet Vermouth

Sweet vermouth brings a rich, herby sweetness that rounds out the Scotch and cuts down on any possible away-from-home bitterness. 1 oz is the sweet spot, pardon the pun, to achieve harmony between spirit and modifier. Too little, you lose complexity; too much, and you’re entering sangria territory without the fruit.

Mary Mitkina

Angostura Bitters

Just a couple of dashes of Angostura bitters add depth and complexity with its blend of botanicals. It’s like adding a sprinkle of fairy dust – small but mighty. Without it, the drink loses its edge and becomes too smooth, like a rom-com without the com.

Alex Green

Maraschino Cherry

A single maraschino cherry is the edible jewel that tops off the aesthetic. It adds a touch of sweetness and an excuse to eat something after you’re done sipping. Leaving it out is not a deal-breaker, but you'll miss out on a classic garnish and that pop of color and sweetness at the end.

Emma Rose

Orange Twist

Finally, the orange twist. Its citrus oils add an aromatic touch when expressed over the drink, making the first sip come alive with zest. Without it, the cocktail still tastes great, but it’s like wearing a suit without the tie – not quite complete.

Mary Mitkina

Recipe. How to make Rob Roy Drink

  1. Fill a mixing glass with ice
  2. Add 2 oz of Scotch whisky
  3. Add 1 oz of sweet vermouth
  4. Add 2 dashes of Angostura bitters
  5. Stir the mixture until well chilled
  6. Strain the cocktail into a chilled glass
  7. Garnish with a maraschino cherry and an orange twist

Pro Tips

  • Use high-quality Scotch whisky for the best flavor
  • Chill the glass before serving to keep the cocktail cold longer
  • Stir the cocktail well to properly mix the ingredients and chill the drink

Perfect Pairings

Appetizer Pairings

  • Cheese plate: A selection of fine cheeses, particularly those of a robust nature like blue cheese or aged cheddar, can complement the rich and complex flavors of the Rob Roy.
  • Smoked salmon canapés: The smokiness of the salmon pairs wonderfully with the peaty notes often found in Scotch whisky.

Main Course Pairings

  • Steak: A succulent grilled steak with a peppercorn sauce can stand up to the bold flavors of the cocktail.
  • Lamb: Herb-crusted roast lamb, which echoes the herbal notes from the vermouth and bitters.

Dessert Pairings

  • Dark chocolate: The bitterness and the richness of dark chocolate can balance the sweetness of the vermouth and the cherry garnish.

Non-Alcoholic Pairing

  • Coffee: A robust coffee, either black or with a splash of cream, would also be a great non-alcoholic match.

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What you could change in Rob Roy

  • Bourbon can be used instead of Scotch whisky for a sweeter taste
  • Dry vermouth can replace sweet vermouth for a less sweet cocktail
  • Lemon twist can be used as a garnish instead of an orange twist

Explore all drinks starting with R here

And of course - twists🍹

The Highland Rob Roy

  • Replace Scotch whisky with a peated single malt for an intense smoky flavor.
  • Recipe: Follow the original recipe but with the peated whisky.
  • The drink will have a much more pronounced smoky aroma and taste, taking you straight to the Scottish Highlands with each sip.

The Rob Roy Julep

  • Add a sprig of fresh mint for a herby fresh twist.
  • Recipe: After stirring the original ingredients, clap a mint sprig between your hands and place it into the cocktail before serving.
  • This twist introduces a cool, refreshing take on the Rob Roy, perfect for a summer evening soiree.

The Cherrywood Rob Roy

  • Stir in a teaspoon of maraschino liqueur to enhance the cherry flavor.
  • Recipe: Add maraschino liqueur to the mixing glass with the other ingredients, then stir and strain.
  • The Cherrywood Rob Roy will taste sweeter with a stronger cherry presence, like finding an extra cherry in your dessert – a little boozy surprise.

In case you forgot basics how to make Rob Roy

Place your chosen strainer on top of the shaker or mixing glass, ensuring a secure fit. Pour the cocktail into a glass through the strainer, which will catch solid ingredients and ice. If double straining, hold the fine mesh strainer between the shaker and the glass.

Learn everything on how to strain

Insert the spoon into the glass until it touches the bottom. Keep the back of the spoon against the inside wall of the glass, and stir in a smooth, circular motion. The goal is to swirl the ice and ingredients together without churning or splashing.

Learn everything on how to stir

Garnishing a bar drink depends on the type of garnish and the cocktail. Generally, it involves preparing the garnish (like cutting a citrus wheel or picking a sprig of mint), and then adding it to the drink in a visually appealing way (like perching it on the rim or floating it on top).

Learn everything on garnishing

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Frequently Asked Questions on Rob Roy

What type of glass should I use to serve a Rob Roy cocktail?

While the Rob Roy cocktail can be comfortably served in any glass, it is traditionally served in a coupe or martini glass. These types of glass enhance the visual appeal of the cocktail.

What is the difference between a Manhattan cocktail and a Rob Roy cocktail?

The primary difference between these two cocktails is the type of whiskey used. A Manhattan cocktail uses American rye whiskey while a Rob Roy uses Scotch whisky.

Can I make a Rob Roy cocktail without bitters?

While it's possible to make a Rob Roy without bitters, it is not recommended. Bitters help to balance the sweetness of the vermouth and enhance the flavor of the cocktail.

Which Scotch whiskies are best for making a Rob Roy?

While any Scotch whisky can be used to make a Rob Roy, whiskies with a smoky flavor profile tend to work best. This is because they complement the sweet and bitter ingredients in the cocktail.

Is there a specific occasion to enjoy a Rob Roy?

You can enjoy a Rob Roy cocktail on any occasion. However, its warming and full-bodied flavors make it a perfect sipping cocktail for colder months.

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