It’s summer, there’s a pandemic, and we’ve been quarantining for months. Who needs a drink? With Texas bars closed right now in the fight against COVID-19, Texas Monthly has asked some of the state’s best bartenders to make their favorite at-home cocktails in a new video series we’re calling TM Happy Hour. Every Friday for the next seven weeks, we will publish a video and recipe from a bartender, as well as promote the mixologist’s charity of choice. We are kicking off the series with Robert Bjorn Taylor, of Arrive Austin Hotel, who, in light of the current movement for freedom, liberation, and justice within the Black community, is encouraging donations to Black Lives Matter.

In 2011, Taylor, a Houston native, moved to Austin, where he has thrived among its pool of talented bartenders and hospitality leaders. He quickly worked his way up at some of the city’s top restaurants and bars, including Otoko, Emmer & Rye, Peché, and Midnight Cowboy. Today, as the assistant general manager at the Arrive Austin Hotel, Taylor oversees a bar program that looks to classic cocktails for inspiration while employing an innovative approach to new offerings. This smooth and spicy Robert Royale is a riff on the classic Rob Roy, a Scotch-based variation on the Manhattan, with the comforting spice of chai infused in vermouth. This sophisticated cocktail earns its “Royale” pedigree with a crowning of sparkling dry apple cider. (Any good sparkling wine would work in a pinch as a substitute.)

Robert Royale

1 1/2 ounces Scotch whisky
3/4 ounce chai-infused vermouth blanc (see recipe below)
1 1/2 ounces sparkling dry apple cider or sparkling wine
Orange peel for garnish

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Combine Scotch and infused vermouth in a Collins glass filled with ice. Top with apple cider or sparkling wine and stir. Garnish with an orange peel.

Chai-Infused Vermouth Blanc

2 bags of chai tea
2 cups of white vermouth

Pour vermouth into a pitcher. Add tea and let steep for at least an hour and a half. Store in the refrigerator until ready for use.