When I first saw this cocktail, I grinned. Not because it was so similar to one of my loves, the Rob Roy, but because I recognized the name. My grandfather is Robert Burns. It just so happens that he, Mr. Burns, worked much of his life as an executive for a nuclear engineering firm, but my story will veer elsewhere today.
I was told an amusing story of my grandmother, who as a small child was afflicted by a bad stomach virus. Far away were the days of Pepto Bismol, and so the doctor recommended a bit of brandy to settle her chronically aching stomach. Only a half-ounce, mind you. Now, my family is extremely Christian. So imagine the distress on my great-grandfather’s face when the doctor told him that he would even have to set foot in a liquor store, let alone make his daughter drink the devil’s brew.
Well, he did just that. And I’d bet the proprietor of that store nearly had a heart attack when he saw a certain Mr. Ray Charlier step through the threshhold. Immediately explaining his purpose for being there, the owner was relieved and began listing options for different brandies. He didn’t even get to turn his head completely to the brandy section, when the esteemed Mr. Charlier cut him off. “I want that one,” he said, pointing nervously at the lower shelf. I would bet that the owner of that store had all forms of trouble holding back his grin, and I bet you can probably guess by now the brand he picked was none other than Christian Brothers.
- 2oz blended scotch
- 1oz sweet vermouth
- 1/4oz Benedictine
From: The Craft of the Cocktail, Dale DeGroff
The only difference between this and the Rob Roy is the substitution of Benedictine for Angostura bitters. Yet, it completely changes the cocktail. What was a touch spicy and complex becomes something earthy and herbal. I think, overall, it tastes like history.
Gary Regan’s The Joy of Mixology tells us that we may also replace the Benedictine with absinthe or Drambuie, but I have tried neither. Perhaps my readers can do so and comment as to their effectiveness.