Thistle Cocktail

Thistle Cocktail
2 Dashes Angostura Bitters. (2 dashes Angostura Bitters)
1/2 Italian Vermouth. (1 oz Carpano Antica Vermouth)
1/2 Scotch Whisky. (1 oz MacAllan Cask Strength)
Stir well and strain into cocktail glass. (Squeeze Lemon Peel over glass and drop in.)

Robert Vermeire changes the ratio slightly and also makes a note regarding the name:

2 Dashes of Angostura Bitters; 1/6 gill of Italian Vermouth; 2/6 gill of Scotch Whisky. Stir up well, strain into a cocktail glass and squeeze lemon-peel on top. This cocktail is also called “York Cocktail”.

The big question being, what’s the difference between the Rob Roy, Thistle, and York.

As far  as I can tell, nothing.  I guess, if you prefer one of the names, go for it.  I am sort of partial to Thistle, but then I’m an obscurist.  Obviously, the way to go about ordering it in a bar, would be to stick with the common denominator Rob Roy.

As with most Fifty-Fifty type cocktails, I think it is best to go with strongly flavored and high proof spirits for the “base”.  In this case, the Macallan Cask Strength is quite delicious and isn’t going to roll over for the Carpano.  A really enjoyable cocktail, among my current top 10.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

9 thoughts on “Thistle Cocktail

  1. With a nice scotch I really enjoy a perfect (as in 50-50) Thistle and a bold vermouth, as in yours. I’ve ben making with Vya and Hibiki and loving it – Also it’s one of the few drinks where I enjoy subbing in the Fee Brothers barrel-aged bitters for Angostura, normally I find them too sweet and cola-ish.

    For some reason Eric Felten had the Thistle always at perfect ratio and Rob Roy always at dry ( Seems it’s not so simple, judging from Savoy and Vermeire

  2. Oh, I meant to say, at the usual 2:1 ratio of a Manhattan/dry Rob Roy the scotch really seems overpowering to me, vs even a strong vermouth. At least for the two Scotches I’ve tried, the Hiniki and MacAllan 12.

  3. Gave this one a try last night using Glenlivet Nadurra and the Carpano and my oh my this thing is fantastic! Was interested to see how the 50/50 would play but I guess there is a reason why you opt for a high proof version of the Scotch (and agreed the high proof bad boy doesn’t roll over for anyone let alone a vermouth). I like Nadurra because it has a nice amount of the cask/oak flavor mixed in with some interesting grassy/flower notes that seem to pair great with the floral/herbal notes of the Carpano.

    Haven’t tried the MacAllan Cask Strength yet but it is nice.

    Great post Erik.

  4. Wow, Erik, great advice on using the overproof Scotch in this. I felt rather guilty about mixing the Aberlour a’bunadh (59.8% abv) 50:50 with vermouth, but that feeling went away after I drank the thing. Maybe not as good as drinking the Aberlour straight — maybe — but safer, and boy was that a tasty drink.

    And btw I agree that “Thistle” is a more interesting name than Rob Roy.

  5. Interestingly, I was flipping through my copy of Vermeire’s “Cocktails: How to Mix Them” (of course well pre-dates the Savoy) over the weekend, and he does not have the Rob Roy and the Thistle as the same drink. In his rendering, the Rob Roy is equal parts whisky and vermouth (and even features a couple dashes of syrup), while the Thistle is 2:1 whisky:vermouth. It does seem like the Thistle ought to pack a bit more punch than Rob Roy….

  6. Pingback: From the Archives: The Thistle — A Dash of Bitters

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