The Rolls Royce Cocktail

I’ve been meaning to post about this cocktail for quite some time.

Recently, I was at one of my favorite NYC cocktail haunts – the kind where you can entrust your taste to the eminently talented bartender, who will surely not disappoint. I was looking for something in the vein of a Manhattan, but different. What I got, truly to my pleasure, was a Rolls Royce.

There are a few things I love about the Rolls Royce. First, it’s boozy. That just suits my taste. Second, it has Bénédictine in it, which has to be one of the most under-utilized spirits out there. Bénédictine is an herbal liqueur made from 27 plants and spices. Similar in style (though distinctly different), you might compare Bénédictine with Chartreuse, in that it’s herbal, aromatic, somewhat sweet, and a little bit goes a very long way.

So here’s what you need:

2oz gin
1oz sweet vermouth
1oz dry vermouth
1tsp Bénédictine

Add the ingredients to a mixing glass with ice, stir well, and strain. Serve up in a cocktail glass; no garnish required.

There are a few things you can play with here. In terms of the gin, I suggest one of two options: either a dry, peppery gin like Beefeater 24, or something altogether different like Ransom Old Tom Gin. As much as I love a floral gin like Plymouth, it just doesn’t seem to work as well in this cocktail. A gin like Beefeater 24 gives this cocktail a nice spicy undertone, whereas a gin like Ransom, which is actually barrel aged, gives it an almost whisky-like quality. Either way, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

There’s also a lot you can do with the vermouth. Vermouth is often misunderstood and under-appreciated. Most people see it as a simple mixer – something you buy the cheapest brand of at the supermarket or near the cash register at the liquor store. But it can offer so much more. (Paul Clarke tells the whole story.) If you can, try to find a bottle of Dolin, Vya, or best of all, Carpano Antica Formula (thought by many to represent the pinacle of vermouth). Any of these brands of vermouth will add an extra layer of depth and character that just aren’t present in many of the more widely distributed varieties. If you want to go really nuts, try Punt e Mes in place of the sweet vermouth. Punt e Mes, as Paul Clarke puts it, is “an extra-bitter aromatized wine that blurs the boundaries between rosso [sweet] vermouth and the class of Italian bitters known as amari.” It’s a whole different animal, but it works!


Tags: Beefeater, Benedictine, Carpano Antica, cocktail, Dolin, dry vermouth, gin, Punt e Mes, Ransom, sweet vermouth, Vya

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