scotch cocktails

Whisky is a part of Scotland’s rich history. going back hundreds of years. The earliest known mention of whisky is in the Exchequer Rolls of Scotland in 1494. Fast forward to today and whisky is Scotland's national drink, their most popular export, and a tourist attraction that takes people from the lowlands to the northernmost islands of Scotland. While enjoyable on its own thanks to its various complex notes, Scottish whisky also makes a wonderful base for a tasty cocktail. Whether it’s an original from Scotland or a Scottish twist on a foreign classic, whisky is Scots history in a glass.

5 Cocktail Recipes to Try With Scotch



For fans of the Whiskey Sour and the Gold Rush, this is a Scottish take on an American favorite. Named for one of the greatest medical discoveries in history, the Penicillin cocktail switches out Bourbon or another American whiskey with a Scotch of your choice. Penicillin was created at New York City's Milk & Honey bar in the mid-2000s by Sam Ross. The original cocktail made by Ross featured a peaty whisky from Islay. The whisky, paired with fresh lemon juice, honey-ginger syrup, a blended Scotch, and garnished with candied ginger, makes for a balanced drink of sweet, spicy, and tart.


  • 2 ounces blended Scotch
  • 3/4 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 3/4 ounce honey-ginger syrup
  • 1/4 ounce Islay Single Malt Scotch
  • Garnish: candied ginger


  1. Begin by adding  2 ounces of a blended Scotch of your choice into a shaker with 3/4 ounce of freshly squeezed lemon juice, 3/4 ounce of honey-ginger syrup, and ice. Shake until the contents are chilled.
  2. Strain over fresh ice into a rocks glass.
  3. Top with Islay Single Malt Scotch and garnish with candied ginger.

When serving, it is recommended that you forfeit the straw. Drinking straight from the glass allows the drinker to enjoy every single note.


Rusty Nail

Made with Scotch whisky and Drambuie, a blended beverage of whisky, heather honey, herbs, and spices, the Rusty Nail first made an appearance in the 1930s. Today, the Rusty Nail is a classic cocktail, but don’t let that title fool you. The drink failed to gain popularity when it was first introduced. It took three decades for the Rusty Nail to catch on. In 1963, the cocktail's name was cemented when the chairwoman of the Drambuie Liqueur Company, Gina MacKinnon, gave the drink her endorsement in the New York Times. It is said that The Rat Pack loved the beverage and that this may be why the drink began to gain popularity throughout the ‘60s.


  • 1 1/2 ounces blended Scotch
  • 3/4 ounce Drambuie
  • Garnish: lemon twist


  1. Pour your ingredients into an old-fashioned glass, over ice.
  2. Garnish with a lemon twist.

The Rusty Nail can also be served up neat or in a stemmed glass.

There are many variations of this drink, all with similar names. Instead of using a blended Scotch, the whisky is replaced with another alcoholic beverage (or cold brew, creating a brunch favorite). The Smoky Nail, for example, uses an Islay whisky in place of a blended Scotch.


Blood and Sand

While Blood and Sand may not be named for a historical event, person, or medical discovery, the drink does have its place in history. Named for the Rudolph Valentino film of the same name and served in a coupe glass, Blood and Sand is a tropical beverage with a Scottish flair.


  • 3/4 ounce blended Scotch (try with a 12-year Dewars)
  • 3/4 ounce blood orange juice
  • 3/4 ounce Cherry Heering
  • 3/4 ounce sweet vermouth
  • Garnish: maraschino cherry or a flamed orange twist


  1. Combine all ingredients into a shaker and shake well.
  2. Pour into a martini glass or collins glass.
  3. Garnish with a maraschino cherry or a flamed orange twist.

Sweet and tangy, this drink is perfect for your beachfront vacation (or creating the perfect staycation when going out isn’t an option). If you are not yet a whisky drinker but want to give it a try, this is the cocktail for you.


Bloody Mary Queen of Scotch

If you're planning brunch with the girls and you want something new to serve your friends, how about a Scottish twist on an early afternoon classic? The Bloody Mary Queen of Scotch is a variation on the popular Bloody Mary for Scotch lovers. Substitute the usual vodka with a Scottish whisky, preferably blended, of your choice. The recipe changes things up a bit by adding more spices to the mix. But it’s also fine if you only want to switch out the vodka.


  • 2 1/2 ounces Bloody Mary Mix
  • 1/2 ounce clamato juice
  • 1 ounce whisky
  • 1 large pinch wasabi
  • 1 bar spoon soy sauce
  • blended Scotch
  • Garnish: two grinds black pepper


  1. Muddle the soy sauce and wasabi together.
  2. Add Bloody Mary mix, clamato juice, and whisky.
  3. Pour into a shaker over ice and shake well.
  4. Strain into a pint glass and garnish with pepper.

A popular version of this beverage uses Laphroaig 10-year-old single malt.


Bobby Burns

Scotland's favorite son, Robert Burns is a well-respected poet worldwide. A night in celebration of Burns (appropriately called Burns Night) is celebrated yearly on his birthday, January 25th. People come together to enjoy their favorite Scottish dishes. From Haggis to Atholl Brose and other Scottish favorites, Burns Night is a night to celebrate the poet, as well as Scotland itself. Scottish people, descendants, and others enjoy making beverages inspired by people, events, and discoveries from the country. So it comes as no surprise that there is a drink made for The Scottish Bard himself.


  • 1 ounce blended Scotch
  • 1 ounce sweet vermouth
  • 1/2 ounce Bénédictine (Benedictine can be switched out for Drambuie)
  • Garnish: lemon peel


  1. Add all the ingredients together in a mixing glass. Stir until chilled.
  2. Strain into a cocktail glass.
  3. Twist a lemon peel over the drink and place it in the glass.

Publications released in the early 1900s describe a different drink. It was referred to as Baby Burns and made with Irish whisky and absinthe. The only similarities between the two drinks are the use of vermouth and the name Burns.

Try the ingredients below for another variant on the drink.


  • 2 ounces Scotch whisky
  • 3/4 ounce sweet vermouth
  • Dash orange bitters
  • Dash absinthe


Mix It Up With Scotch

Scotch is not traditionally an ingredient used in cocktails. The specific notes have usually been preferred neat or on the rocks. In recent years, however, Scotch has been used in more cocktails. Many popular beverages made with bourbon have been made with Scottish whisky in its place. When making a cocktail with Scotch whisky, start with a blended variety for the best results. Twelve-year blended Scotch whisky is your best choice. Dewars, J&B, and Johnny Walker Black are three popular choices for cocktails where Scotch is the main ingredient. The power of the beverage itself garners the love of many worldwide. But if you struggle to drink it neat, these are just a few cocktails that will allow you to enjoy the complex notes that all whiskies have to offer. If you are bored with your usual choice at the bar, switch it up with a blended Scotch to make your drink a Scottish delight.