It took us a long time to get around to reviewing Rob Roy, but it’s one of my favorite bars in Seattle, both for the ambiance and the quality of drinks. These are people who take their ice very seriously; a good sign. If you order an old fashioned, they carve a big piece of clear, beautiful ice using big knives and kevlar gloves. The spectacle alone makes the order worth it.
As you can see, they have a creative and thoughtful menu. Any time I see a menu with a turmeric syrup drink, or a vinegar drink, I know I am in the right place. David Wondrich rated Rob Roy as one of the best bars in America in 2012, and the article has a great shot of the interior. The large copper still by the bar perfectly conveys Rob Roy’s values.
On the evening of my most recent visit, I ordered the Saffron Sandalwood Sour, below:
I was impressed with this drink. It is not often that one has the opportunity to enjoy potable sandalwood. The sherbet gave the drink an appealing, slushy texture. I had assumed that they used sandalwood oil, but now that I look at the drink, I think they simply grated some on top. I promise that was not nutmeg. If I heard that someone grated wood on top of my drink, I might be a bit skeptical, but the texture was not impacted in negative way.
The gunpowder punch is primarily a gin and lemon-grapefruit affair, a flavor which comes from oleo saccharum. It has a spicy, slightly acrid finish from the gunpowder. One does not want to consume very much gunpowder, I imagine, but I honestly would not mind if the flavor were stronger.
Despite their supreme excellence, I feel like Seattlites don’t regard Rob Roy as highly as some of the newer craft bars, and that’s a real shame. They sit in Belltown, quietly brilliant, thoroughly excellent. If you’re in the neighborhood, give them a shot.