There is always some confusion about this cocktail. First of all, there are two similarly named drinks. One is called the Bobby Burns, the other the Robert Burns, and no one can agree whether either of them are named after the famed Scottish poet, or a nineteenth century cigar salesman who frequented the Waldorf-Astoria bar. I’ll leave debates like that to people like Gary ‘gaz’ Regan, who just wrote this piece for the San Francisco Chronicle last week.
In any case, this is one of those old-school classics that instantly reminds me of Autumn. So very few drinks call for blended Scotch or Benedictine these days, that it makes me realize how flavor preferences have changed over the years. This is the kind of drink that gentlemen (and presumably women) would have enjoyed as an after dinner dessert of sorts. Thick, viscous, and almost cloyingly sweet. The real trick here is to find just the right ratio of spirit to modifier to sweetener. Personally, I think the recipe as printed in the Mr. Boston 75th Anniversary Guide leans too far in the direction of vermouth. Also, be sure to use a high quality blended Scotch such as Famous Grouse or Pig’s Nose, instead of one of the inexpensive bottom shelf brands. You want the smokey Scotch notes to assert themselves here. Slàinte!
1.5oz blended scotch whisky
1.5oz sweet vermouth
1 tsp benedictine
garnish: lemon twist
Stir with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Add lemon twist.