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The Rob Roy drink is a Manhattan made with Scotch whisky! This booze-forward cocktail is a sophisticated way to enjoy a good Scotch.

Rob Roy drink
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What if you’re a Scotch lover and a Manhattan lover? Make the Rob Roy! The Rob Roy drink is a Manhattan cocktail made with Scotch whisky instead of bourbon or rye. This booze-forward drink is the perfect way to enjoy a good Scotch! It’s a retro slow-sipper that’s been around for over a century. Top it with a Luxardo cherry and it’s the ideal way to mix up your Manhattan. Let’s get mixing!

What’s in a Rob Roy drink?

The Rob Roy drink was born in 1894, so it’s a classic cocktail with a history. Though it’s not nearly as famous as its cousin the Manhattan, it’s still widely made today. Why is it called Rob Roy? Well, it’s named in honor of the premier of an operetta, a very 1890’s thing to do (right?). The operetta was based on a Scottish folk hero named Rob Roy MacGregor. What’s in a Rob Roy? The same ingredients as a Manhattan, but with Scotch:

  • Scotch whiskey
  • Sweet red vermouth
  • Angostura or orange bitters
  • Cocktail cherry for the garnish

Let’s talk through the ingredients, shall we?

Rob Roy

Use your favorite Scotch

For the Rob Roy drink, use your favorite type of Scotch! If you’re a fan, you probably already have your favorite bottles. We used a Dewar’s Blended Scotch whisky, which we had on hand from making the Penicillin cocktail, another great Scotch drink. Here’s a little more about Scotch types:

  • Blended Scotch: Blended Scotch has a smooth flavor: almost like bourbon, but with more of a spicy finish. As its name suggests, it’s made by blending two types of whisky: barrel-aged malt whisky and grain whisky. This is what we suggest using here.
  • Single Malt Scotch: Single malt Scotch is a malt whisky that’s from one distillery, and it’s usually a little more expensive. If you have one, you can certainly also use it in the Rob Roy.

More about vermouth

Vermouth is a fortified wine, meaning that liquor has been added. There are two main types of vermouth: sweet (usually red) and dry (usually white). Here’s a bit more about vermouth:

  • Sweet vermouth is subtly sweet and spicy, with a hit of bitter on the back end. It’s used in many classic cocktails like the NegroniAmericano, and the Hanky Panky. It’s a versatile ingredient that’s absolutely worth adding to your collection!
  • Dry vermouth: Dry white vermouth is used in martinis, like the Classic MartiniDirty Martini and Cucumber Martini.

You can also drink sweet vermouth on the rocks as an aperitif. Make sure to store vermouth in the refrigerator: it stays good there for up to 3 months.

Rob Roy drink

Use Angostura or orange bitters

Cocktail bitters are used in cocktails to add a complexity and a bitter finish to the sip. If you’ve never used them, grab a bottle and shake a dash or two into a drink. It goes from one-note to extraordinarily complex with just a few drops! That’s because bitters are made with herbs and spices: it adds intrigue because the flavors are not easily recognizable. Here are the types of bitters to use in the Rob Roy drink:

  • Angostura bitters are one of the most popular types of bitters and easy to find. The flavor is a little spicy and well, bitter. They get the name from their manufacturer: the House of Angostura in Trinidad and Tobago. Other cocktails that use them? The Classic Old Fashioned, Amaretto Sour, Trinidad Sour and Champagne Cocktail.
  • Orange bitters are more citrusy than Angostura bitters: they’ve got notes of orange, cardamom and nutmeg. Go to Top Orange Bitters Cocktails.

Top the Rob Roy with a Luxardo cherry!

Now that you’ve got all that: let’s talk about the garnish! The classic garnish for a Manhattan and a Rob Roy drink is a Luxardo cherry. Luxardo cherries are a cocktail cherry, but they’re so dark red they almost look black. They don’t taste anything like a Maraschino cherry. The flavor? Complex, fruity, and nutty almost like amaretto. Exactly what you need for a classic cocktail. Where to find Luxardo cherries? It’s easiest to get them online.

Rob Roy Drink

More Scotch cocktails

Love your Scotch? There are many more ways to mix it into a tasty drink. Here are a few of the top Scotch cocktails:

  • Godfather Cocktail The Godfather pairs Scotch with amaretto: a great into-to-Scotch drink!
  • Penicillin Cocktail A modern classic! Featuring Scotch with the flavors of honey, lemon and ginger, it’s got a unique, high-end vibe.
  • Scotch Sour A whiskey sour with blended Scotch, it tastes sweet tart and peaty on the finish.
  • Rusty Nail A Scotch and Drambuie cocktail that’s got the 1960’s written all over it! We put a little shine on this classic slow sipper.
  • Blood and Sand A unique classic cocktail made with Scotch! Full of complex flavor, it features blood orange juice and cherry liqueur.

When to serve a Rob Roy drink

The Rob Roy is a sophisticated and complex Scotch cocktail. It’s perfect for sipping as a:

  • Happy hour drink
  • Dinner party drink
  • Late night drinks drink
  • Guys or girls night drink
  • Cocktail hour drink
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Rob Roy drink

Rob Roy Cocktail

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5 from 2 reviews

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 drink 1x
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The Rob Roy drink is a Manhattan made with Scotch whisky! This booze-forward cocktail is a sophisticated way to enjoy a good Scotch.


  • 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) blended Scotch whisky
  • 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) sweet red vermouth
  • 3 dashes Angostura or orange bitters
  • For the garnish: Luxardo cherry or other cocktail cherry


  1. Combine the Scotch, vermouth and bitters in a cocktail mixing glass (or any other type of glass). Fill the mixing glass with 1 handful ice and stir continuously for 30 seconds.
  2. Strain into a coupe or cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry and serve.
  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Stirred
  • Cuisine: Cocktails
  • Diet: Vegan

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. Sunny says:

    You guys are my go-to site when I need to make something! From food to drinks you rock! :) And I enjoy my ‘imbibe’. Thank you.

  2. James Douglas says:

    Thanks for the whisky recipies.

    Here is one.
    I call it Château en ruine de Touraine. Castle ruins of Touraine

    or Castle Ruins

    1 Grand Marnier
    1 Drambuie
    2 Scotch whisky (Chivas is good)
    squeeze of fresh lime juice
    fresh mint leaf
    dash bitters

    build in shaker over lots of ice.
    Shake with vigor,
    strain into a (chilled) martini glass
    garnish with a mint leaf or citus peel

    or strain into Old Fashioned or Highball/Cooler glass onto plenty of ice
    for a longer drink

    works with rum, bourbon. Works very well with peaty single malts(Grown ups only!)

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      Sounds great!