What is a Rob Roy?

The Rob Roy cocktail is similar to the Manhattan, but uses Scotch whiskey instead of rye whiskey.

Scottish Robin Hood, also known as Robert Roy MacGregor or simply Rob Roy, was a 17th- and 18th-century folk hero whose courageous or reckless actions have been recounted in various accounts of fiction, including Daniel Defoe’s novel Highland Rogue, and in the novel Sir Walter Scott’s most familiar, Rob Roy. MacGregor’s stories also led to operatic retellings, and it was during the opening of the operetta Rob Roy, written by Reginald De Koven, in New York in 1894 that the drink named after the Scotsman Robin Hood was invented. Initially, the operetta and the drink were equally popular, but the cocktail has now surpassed De Koven’s operetta in fame.

The Rob Roy cocktail, according to bartending legend, was created at the Waldorf Hotel. However, the most popular recipe for this was printed in The Savoy Book, which was not published until 1930. This book was published by The Savoy Hotel, and claims that the drink was popular in Scotland, especially in commemoration of the famous outlaw.

As a cocktail, Rob Roy is very similar to Manhattan. The basic and really significant difference between the two cocktails is the type of whiskey used. The Manhattan uses rye whiskey, but the Rob Roy evokes the Scotch hero by using Scotch whiskey. Otherwise, the two recipes are quite similar, although whiskey aficionados will likely point out the many flavor differences between rye and Scotch whiskey.

The basic recipe for the drink is as follows:

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Three parts scotch to one part (or in some recipes half a part) vermouth Bit of bitters (in some recipes)

Cherry for garnish.

The drink can be served over ice or shaken over ice and served directly. There are differences as to the type of vermouth to be used, as it can be sweet or dry. Some mention another drink, Perfect Rob Roy, which uses half-dry, half-sweet vermouth. Most recipes suggest using sweet vermouth, but some only suggest using dry vermouth. The sweeter version seems more common.

A non-alcoholic cocktail or mocktail that references Rob Roy, although the reference is almost lost in translation is Roy Rogers. This is a combination of glue and grenadine and is usually decorated with a cherry. In fact, it’s rare to hear the drink called Roy Rogers these days. Instead, the drink can be called grenadini and also Shirley Temple Black. Naming the mocktail after Roy Rogers, the famous cowboy may have been a ruse to get the boys to order the drink, if they were reluctant to order a Shirley Temple, made from lemon and grenadine soda because the name also sounded “Female.”

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