The Rob Roy: Same Bar, New Name
A Rob Roy is a version of a manhattan made with Scotch. Rob Roy (1671–1734), the cocktail's namesake, was an outlaw-hero, the Scottish version of Robin Hood. The Rob Roy is a cocktail bar in Belltown, named after the drink named after the man. The bar used to be called the Viceroy, until the Viceroy boutique hotel chain—with hotels around the world, though none in Seattle—took umbrage and sent Viceroy-the-bar a cease-and-desist letter. (A viceroy is a governor designated by a king and/or a small-size version of the monarch butterfly.)
While the Seattle bar the Viceroy had existed happily for five years, cessation and desistance namewise was unavoidable. The Viceroy hotels have what look to be limitlessly deep, beautifully upholstered pockets. (The ones in Palm Springs and Santa Monica feature contemporized-baroque decor by Kelly Wearstler: the wife of the hotels' developer, a judge on the Bravo show Top Design, and Playboy's September 1994 Playmate of the Month. Another Kelly, at the parent company of the hotels Viceroy, did not return a call about why they'd care about a tiny bar in Seattle in the first place.)
The Rob Roy has the same owners as before and the same swankish '70s lounge decor—the stacked flagstone behind the bar, the black-leather-padded wall, the Lucite-stalactite light fixture. The leaf-and-butterfly wall sculptures came, as it happens, from the former home of pulp novelist Sidney Sheldon in Palm Springs. The books on the bookshelves, which also house a decorative-only reel-to-reel tape player, came from thrift stores: Right now, there's a hardback first edition of Shogun by James Clavell (1975), Time/Life's The Gunfighters series (1974), a copy of Roots by Alex Haley (1976). (Haley also conducted the first interview for Playboy magazine, with Miles Davis.)
The Rob Roy looks like a place Hugh Hefner would fit right in, and he would doubtless love the Rob Roy's Rob Roy (so nice, they named it twice, just like that). It's made with Dewar's 12-year and homemade bitters; instead of a sunken cherry, it's got a little island of floating orange peel. (The Rob Roy has a new cocktail menu of classic favorites—an amaretto sour with egg white, a dark-and-stormy with house-made ginger beer, a Vieux Carré—for the relatively old-school price of $7.50 each.)
People steal the books from the Rob Roy with regularity, even the books no one should want, like old volumes of Funk & Wagnalls Encyclopedia. Also stolen during the Rob Roy's years as the Viceroy: a lamp with a base made out of a taxidermied hoof. No one knows how someone made off with the lamp; the thief did leave the shade behind. A replacement hoof-lamp was also stolen. The third edition of the hoof-lamp is still there, bolted to its table.