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Bobby Burns

Two bobby burns cocktails with lemon twists in nick and nora glasses.
Photo by Joseph De Leo, Food Styling by Kaitlin Wayne
  • Active Time

    2 minutes

  • Total Time

    2 minutes

“Dare to be honest and fear no labor,” wrote Scottish poet Robert Burns. It might be a perfect motto for the craft bartender if the “Auld Layne Sang” author hadn’t also written, “I foresee that poverty and obscurity probably await me, and I am in some measure prepared and daily preparing to meet them.”

The writer casts a long shadow over Scottish literature indeed, but his namesake cocktail once seemed all but forgotten. Seemingly a riff on the Rob Roy (a combination of scotch and sweet vermouth similarly named after possible nicknames of iconic Scotsmen), at its heart the Bobby Burns is a manhattan. Whereas that silky, rich classic depends on peppery rye, the Rob and Bob both call for scotch—of course. And in the case of the poet’s namesake, the addition of the aromatic and historic Benedictine liqueur, a unique blend of spirit, spices, and herbs sweetened with honey, which keeps the drink both zesty and complex.

The Bobby Burns can be found in famous old books like Recipes for Mixed Drinks (1916) and The Savoy Cocktail Book (1930) and a similarly named (or perhaps typo’d) “Baby Burns” shows up in Fancy Drinks (1902). While older versions call for equal parts whiskey and vermouth like many of their contemporary manhattans, I prefer mine with a more modern, spirit-leaning ratio. I even throw in some bitters when I’m feeling feisty. Even though the Benedictine fills in the spice where bitters usually play in the classic, I find a little aromatic bitters can bring out the subtle cacao and saffron flavors.

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What you’ll need


Makes 1

2 oz. Scotch (such as Famous Grouse)
¾ oz. sweet vermouth (such as Carpano Antica)
1 tsp. Benedictine
2 dashes The Bitter Truth Old Time Aromatic Bitters (optional)
Lemon twist (for serving)
  1. Combine 2 oz. Scotch¾ oz. sweet vermouth1 tsp. Benedictine, and 2 dashes The Bitter Truth Old Time Aromatic Bitters, if using, in a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir until well chilled, 20–30 seconds, then strain into a coupe or other stemmed cocktail glass. Express a lemon twist over top and discard the twist.

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  • Absolutely yummy

    • Anonymous

    • Pune

    • 1/24/2023

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