13 Classic Scotch Cocktail Recipes

I know, this post for some is blasphemous. For many people, the thought of pouring a bottle of scotch into a mixed drink is one of the seven deadly sins. Listen, I get it, but it’s not like you’re pouring that 14-year bottle of highly-coveted Scotch whisky into a mixed drink. Truth be told, I think Scotch whisky deserves a seat at the table (or, rather cocktail bar) as much as any other spirit, especially when there are so many great classic Scotch cocktail recipes. 

And while Scotch cocktails aren’t as common on drink menus as other spirits like vodka, gin and bourbon, there are some amazing Scotch cocktails that date back years. Some of them in fact date back centuries. So with winter a coming, I thought it high time to share some of the best classic Scotch cocktail recipes. 

Best Scotch Cocktail Recipes

Rusty Nail

  • 2 oz. blended Scotch whisky

  •  .5 oz. Drambuie

Fittingly, I was first introduced to the Rusty Nail, and it’s main ingredient, Drambuie, while doing my first Scotch whisky flight in Scotland, in Edinburgh. If you want a gateway to Scotch, Drambuie is a starting place, as it’s technically a Scotch liqueur. The Scotch whisky is infused with Heather honey, herbs and spices, making it the perfect fall and winter compliment. Being that it’s got just two ingredients, it’s really impossible to mess it up. To make it, you’ll simply add the Drambuie and blended Scotch whisky to a rocks glass with ice and stir it—that’s literally it. Bartenders use different ratios here, like a 1:1 ratio, but I follow David Wondrich's above recommendations.

Blood and Sand

  • .75 oz. blended Scotch whiskey

  • .75 oz. sweet vermouth

  • .75 oz. Cherry Heering

  • .75 oz. orange juice

  • Orange peel to garnish

The Blood and Sand was actually one of my first cocktail loves, and I’m sure there are still some of my biz cards and coasters floating around with the Blood and Sand recipe on it. To the purist, the ingredients of the Blood and Sand are probably outrageous, with ingredients like cherry liqueur and orange juice. On paper, it shouldn’t work, but somehow it blends into a nicely balanced cocktail. If you’re not a whiskey drinker, but like balanced cocktails, start here. To make the Blood and Sand, add all of the ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake. Then strain it into a chilled martini or coupe glass. Pinkies up!

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Rob Roy

  • 2 oz. blended Scotch

  • 1 oz. sweet vermouth

  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters

  • Brandied cherry, to garnish

The Rob Roy sounds like something straight out of Game of Thrones. And it kind of is, being that it’s named after the 18th-century Scottish outlaw of the same name. The drink itself dates back to the late-1800s, first appearing at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City. The Rob Roy’s origination in New York City is only appropriate, since it’s really just a Scotch whisky version of a Manhattan cocktail. The Rob Roy is made and served just like the Manhattan, with all the ingredients added to a mixing glass with ice, and then stirred and strained into a chilled martini or coupe glass. 

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  • 2 oz. Scotch

  • .25 oz. Amaretto

The stately sounding Scotch cocktails continue with the Godfather, which dates back to the 1970s, reportedly named for the Godfather movie (although no one has expressly taken credit for it). Honestly, it’s an odd combination, mixing Scotch whisky with the sweet-tasting Amaretto Italian liqueur, like something you’d mix together in college, trying to impress your friends with your Scotch prowess. The Godfather cocktail is made just like the Rusty Nail, mixing Scotch and Amaretto together with ice.

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  • 2 oz. Scotch

  • 2 oz. club soda

  • Ginger ale, to top 

Ridiculous cocktail names continue with the Presbyterian, albeit there’s nothing religious about this Scotch cocktail that dates back to the turn of the 20th century. Truth be told, they would’ve gotten away with just calling it a “Scotch and Ginger,” since that’s essentially what it is. Cocktail historian David Wondrich recommends mixing the Scotch with two to four ounces of ginger ale, while most recipes call for Scotch, ginger ale and club soda. To make this version of the Presbyterian (from Difford’s Guide), simply add the Scotch and club soda to an ice-filled glass, and then top with ginger ale. 


Mamie Taylor

  • 2 oz. Scotch whisky

  • .5 oz. lime

  • Ginger ale, to top

Yes, a Mamie Taylor is basically a Presbyterian but with lime juice. The popular pre-prohibition drink is reportedly named after a Broadway actress by the same name (but different spelling), and is oddly similar to a Moscow Mule. Difford’s Guide reports that the drink was apparently so popular in the early 1900s, that bartenders would charge a pretty penny for it to discourage patrons from ordering it. However, it’s a cocktail that you’ll rarely, if ever, see on a cocktail menu these days. Like a Moscow Mule (save the copper mug), you’ll simply add all the ingredients to an ice-filled glass and enjoy.

Scotch Sour

  • 2 oz. blended Scotch whisky 

  • 1 oz. lemon juice

  • .5 oz. simple syrup

If you guessed that the Scotch Sour is nothing more than a whiskey sour, then you would be correct. The ingredients I list above are the ingredients for a whiskey sour in its simplest form. I often like to do a whiskey sour with an egg white for a little froth, while Saveur recommends making a cinnamon and honey simple syrup, which I’m all about. The fact is that the whiskey sour is a versatile cocktail that you can easily tweak ingredients and measurements of to get the desired results. To make this version of a Scotch Sour, you’ll add all the ingredients to an ice-filled cocktail shaker, and shake (dry shake first if adding egg white). Then strain into a rocks glass filled with ice and garnish with a cherry or citrus peel.

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Bobby Burns

  • 2 oz. Highland malt scotch

  • .75 oz. sweet vermouth

  • .5 oz. Bénédictine

The Bobby Burns is arguably the best classic Scotch cocktail recipe. Harry Craddock, who first wrote about it in The Savory Cocktail Book in 1930, agreed. Named for the Scottish poet by the same name, the Bobby Burns cocktail is altogether spirit-forward, simple and yet very flavorful. But be forewarned, it’s boozy! Measurements vary depending on who you talk to, but I use cocktail expert Dale DeGroff’s recommendations. To make it, add all the ingredients to a mixing glass with ice to stir, and then strain into a martini or coupe glass. 

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Morning Glory Fizz

  • 2 oz. blended Scotch

  • .75 oz. lemon 

  • .5 oz. simple syrup

  • 1 egg white

  • Couple dashes of Absinthe

  • Club soda, to top

Glory! Here we have the Scotch whisky hair of the dog, dating back to the late-1800s. This is another Scotch cocktail that has tons of variations, but what you’ll usually find in every single one is Scotch, absinthe, egg white and soda. This recipe is adapted from Difford’s Guide. To make this Morning Glory Fizz cocktail, add all the ingredients (except soda water) to a cocktail shaker without ice and shake. Then, add ice and shake again, and strain into a glass.

Scotch Old Fashioned

  • 2 oz. blended Scotch

  • .25 oz. simple syrup or 1 tsp. sugar

  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters

I’m quite biased here, since the Old Fashioned is my all-time favorite cocktail. Part of why I love the Old Fashioned is that while it has a very simple ingredient list, it’s so versatile in the different infusions and spirits you can use, including Scotch. My Old Fashioned recipe is far more methodical than most, as I first just add the sugar and a little bit of the whiskey to a mixing glass with a couple cubes of ice and stir. I then add more ice, bitters and gradually stir in the rest of the whiskey. Finally, I strain it in a rocks glass over a big ‘ole ice cube. 

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Scotch Hot Toddy

  • 2 oz. Scotch

  • .5 oz. lemon

  • 1 spoon honey

  • 1-2 oz. hot water

  • Spices, like cloves and/or a cinnamon stick

Winter cometh! Like the Scotch Sour and Scotch Old Fashioned, there are tons of different variations for a hot toddy. Some use bourbon, others use brandy, while some use hot water and others use tea. This is a simple Scotch whisky hot toddy recipe, in which you’ll stir together the Scotch, lemon and honey in a mug before topping with hot water and adding some of your favorite spices. 

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  • 2 oz. blended Scotch

  • .75 oz. lemon

  • .75 oz. honey-ginger syrup (recipe here in Saveur)

  • .25 oz. Islay single malt Scotch (ideally Laphroaig)

  • Fresh ginger

  • Candied ginger, to garnish

The Penicillin isn’t technically a classic, historic Scotch cocktail, since it just dates back about a decade, created by Sam Ross at the renowned Milk & Honey. However, I strongly believe it to be one of the best, if not the single best cocktail that the modern cocktail era has given us. It’s altogether smoky, spicy and balanced, and yet just four primary ingredients. To make the Penicillin cocktail, you’ll muddle a piece of fresh ginger in a cocktail shaker before adding the rest of the ingredients (except the single malt) with ice to shake. Double strain into a rocks glass filled with ice and then pour the Islay single malt into it over the back of a spoon so that it floats on top.

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Atholl Brose

  • 2 1⁄3 cups scotch

  • 1⁄2 cup steel-cut oatmeal

  • 2⁄3 cup heavy cream

  • 1⁄4 cup honey

Atholl Brose by traditional definitions isn’t a cocktail, but rather a whiskey liqueur served typically around the holidays. However, it’s one of Scotland’s most historic drinks, and when I serve it, it’s usually as a post-dinner cocktail during winter. The legend goes that the Earl of Atholl, in the late 1400s, was able to capture a rebel leader by spiking his well with honey, whisky, and oatmeal, which are the key ingredients to this drink. Recipes vary, however, with some including cream and others that don’t. Alternatively, you could also just buy a bottle of Atholl Brose.

The recipe for Atholl Brose that I typically follow is from Saveur, which calls for stirring the Scotch and oatmeal together in a bowl or mason jar and then covering with cheesecloth and letting it sit for a couple days. Then, add it, the heavy cream and honey to a saucepan and bring to a simmer (not a boil!) to serve it warm.