Boozy Alcoholic Scotch Bobby Burns Cocktail with a Lemon Peel
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Bobby Burns Cocktail

Blended whisky cocktails tend to get overlooked, but the Bobby Burns is worth seeking out. The lesser-known contemporary of the Manhattan and the Rob Roy, a Bobby Burns is dry and smooth with a rich, slightly herbal flavor.

About the Bobby Burns

As with most drinks that originated in the early 20th century, the exact creator of the Bobby Burns is unknown. Its first print mention appears in 1902’s Bishop & Babcock Company’s Fancy Drinks, where the recipe is basically the same, although the drink itself is called a Baby Burns.

About 15 years later, the drink started to become more commonly known as the Bobby Burns, referred to as such in 1917’s Recipes for Mixed Drinks and 1930’s Savoy Cocktail Book. Although nobody knows for sure, it’s widely assumed the drink is named for famous Scottish poet Robert Burns.

The drink is structurally similar to a Rob Roy, which is a Scotch-based variation of the world-famous Manhattan. However, while a Rob Roy uses a two-to-one ratio of scotch and vermouth, a Bobby Burns is made with equal proportions of both. Plus, a Bobby Burns requires Benedictine, an herbal liqueur with a proprietary blend of 27 herbs and spices.

For the best (and most authentic) taste, you’ll want to make this drink with blended scotch whisky instead of single malt. Although Johnny Walker and Chivas Regal are perhaps the most famous options, you can find plenty of alternatives, too. Choose a whisky aged at least 12 years for maximum smoothness and taste complexity.  

While the drink is tasty anytime, be sure and enjoy one on January 25th. Known as Burns Night, it’s Burns’ birthday, and fans worldwide drink his namesake cocktail as a way to celebrate.

Ingredients for a Bobby Burns

A Bobby Burns only needs four ingredients. However, each one is fairly specific.

  • 1 ounce blended Scotch whisky aged at least 12 years
  • 1/2 ounce Benedictine
  • 1 ounce sweet vermouth
  • 1 lemon peel

How to Make a Bobby Burns

You can make a Bobby Burns in two simple steps.

1. Combine the Ingredients

You’ll need a mixing glass instead of a shaker. Made from either glass or metal, a mixing glass is an open-topped container used to chill cocktails quickly.

Add the whisky, vermouth, and Benedictine to the mixing glass. Next, fill it about halfway to three-quarters full of ice. Next, using a stirring stick, mix the ingredients until the drink is well-chilled.

2. Pour the Drink

A traditional Bobby Burns is served in a cocktail glass. Using a strainer to block the ice, pour the drink into the glass. Finally, twist the lemon peel over the glass to release the juice, and then add it as a garnish or put it into the drink.

Variations

The Bobby Burns is a derivation of a cocktail called the Robert Burns. While it also uses a base on 12-year Scotch whisky and vermouth, it switches the Benedictine for a dash of orange bitters.

Additionally, you can add a dash of absinthe, which brings a sharp flavor that contrasts the drink’s natural bitterness. Unlike the Bobby Burns, which is made in a mixing glass, you’ll want to make a Robert Burns in a shaker.

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