Most restaurants on University Avenue in St. Paul deliver excellent food at the expense of their ambiance. I’ll happily eat a banh mi from a grocery store or a bowl of pho in an unadorned plastic booth. But when it’s happy hour, I want to escape. I want to drink in summer as I drink down my Scotch.
That’s why I was thrilled to learn that Ngon Bistro—which already hosts some of the best cocktails on the avenue—is in the process of building an outdoor bar on their back patio. Under a shady pergola, surrounded by herbs and flowers of all sorts, I’m getting waves of smoky flavor (see Spirits Close-Up: Smoke) in this tasty lowball.
“This is very similar to a perfect Rob Roy,” says Jesse Huschle, our man behind the bar at Ngon. “The only tweak we do is a house-made dram in the place of bitters. It was on the fall cocktail list, but it got so popular we kept it on.”
He means “perfect” in the sense of containing equal parts sweet and dry vermouth. But a twig of burnt cedar melds with the smoky blended Scotch, making this afternoon on the patio perfect, indeed.
Campfire Rob Roy
2 ounces Black Bottle blended Scotch
½ ounce Carpano Antica sweet vermouth
½ ounce Carpano Dry vermouth
Splash of allspice dram (or substitute heavy doses of Angostura and blackstrap bitters)
Build all the ingredients in a lowball glass over one large ice cube. Light a small twig of cedar on fire, blow it out, drop it in the glass, and serve.
Corrected July 18, 2017, to reflect the burnt twig is cedar, not spruce.