9 Drambuie Cocktails

Posted on 06 Jan 2018 19:35

Rusty Nail, Royal Rob Roy, and Other Cocktails Featuring Drambuie

Have some Drambuie but don't know what to do with it? Well, you can drink it straight on the rocks, but it may be too sweet for you. So, here are cocktails perfect for everyone's favorite Scottish liqueur, the most famous of which is the Rusy Nail

The Rusty Nail

Rusty Nails are usually made with Scotch whiskey, which can be quite hot and biting. The Drambuie gentles it up somewhat. There is no agreed upon exact proportion of ingredients as different individuals prefer more or less Drambuie, to adjust the sweetness to their liking. Most bartenders, if they are good, should ask for the customer's preferences, i.e. sweet or dry. However, a good starting point is around 2 ounces of Scotch to 1 ounce of Drambuie and, if you are good at math, you'll see that is two parts Scotch to one part Drambuie. This can be served on the rocks or straight up. Sometimes a lemon twist is added, or a maraschino cherry in your less sophisticated establishments.

Rusty Nail cocktail

Rusty Nail 1

Rusty Nail cocktail

Rusty Nail 1

If serving on the rocks, fill an old-fashioned glass with ice to half-way and pour over the Scotch and then the Drambuie. Stir, but not too much.

According to A.J. Rathbun, author of Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz: A Cocktail Lover's Guide to Mixing Drinks, the Canadian version of the drink uses Rye whiskey instead of Scotch and is called a Donald Sutherland. Nice.2

This classic and simple drink owes a comparison to the Rob Roy which uses Scotch whiskey and vermouth (with some bitters). In fact, a Rob Roy with Drambuie added is called a Royal Rob Roy. And if you use regular Bourbon or whiskey instead of Scotch, you've got a Manhattan.

Keep in mind, though, that unlike Vermouth which averages about 17% ABV, Drambuie is just as potent as the Scotch it's poured into, so the Rusty Nail is to be treated with respect, if you are used to Rob Roys or Manhattans. However, in terms of taste, don't let the name Rusty Nail fool you. Although it sounds tough, a Rob Roy can actually have more bite, depending on how much Drambuie is used in the Rusty Nail.

There is a legend that the cocktail got it's name when four Scottish bartenders, dealing with some boorish American customers, stirred their drinks with a rusty nails. The Drambuie company likes the story of two brothers, Rusty and Dusty Nail, who, in 1799 had a difference of opinion on who invented the drink. They had a duel to settle their difference, and you can guess who won. More likely the name simply came from the drink's color.

Royal Rob Roy

A "perfect" Rob Roy with Drambuie added. 1.5 ounces each Scotch and Drambuie, and 1/4 ounce each dry and sweet vermouth, are shaken with ice in a cocktail mixer and strained into a glass. Served with a maraschino cherry.

Bent Nail

The Bent Nail is a mix of Canadian whiskey, Drambuie, and Kirschwasser. It is also called a Mammamattawa. Usually, about 1.5 ounces of Canadian whiskey and 1/2 ounce of Drambuie is used, along with 1 tsp kirsch. These are combined with ice in a cocktail shaker, shaken, and strained into a glass, with or without more ice.


A Dundee is Bombay Sapphire Gin, Scotch Whiskey, Drambuie, and lemon juice. It uses 1.5 ounces gin and Drambuie to one ounce Scotch, and 1 tsp of lemon juice, all of which are shaken in a mixer and strained into a glass, with ice added. Cherry and lemon twist is the usual garnish.

Old Nick

An Old Nick is made with Canadian Club whiskey, Drambuie, orange juice, lemon juice, and orange bitters. 1.5 ounces Canadian Club, 1/2 ounce Drambuie, 1/2 ounces each, orange and lemon juice, and 3 dashes or orange bitters are combined in a shaker half-filled with ice. Served in on old-fashioned over ice with a lemon twist and maraschino cherry.

Whiskey Zipper

A Whiskey Zipper is a little Drambuie mixed with Canadian Club whiskey, maraschino liqueur, and lemon juice. 2 ounces of Canadian Club, 1/2 ounce maraschino liqueur, one tablespoon Drambuie, and one teaspoon lemon juice are mixed stirred with ice. Using Tullamore Dew makes it an Irish Whiskey Zipper.


Maker's Mark, Drambuie, Cutty Sark, lemon and orange juice. Shake with ice, one ounce of Maker's Mark, 1/2 ounce each of Drambuie and Cutty Sark, one ounce each of lemon and orange juice. Serve over ice.

Knuckle Buster

Drambuie, Cutty Sark, and Bacardi. 1.5 ounces Cutty Sark, 1/2 ounce Drambuie and 1 teaspoon Barcardi 151 rum served over ice.

Loch Lomond

A version of this drink is made with Scotch, bitters, and sugar. The Drambuie version uses vermouth. Shake with ice, one ounce Scotch whiskey, one once Drambuie, 1/2 ounce dry vermouth. Strain into a martini or cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon twist.

1. "Drambuie." Drambuie. Web. 18 May 2012. <http://www.drambuie.com/>
2. Rathbun, A. J. Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz: A Cocktail Lover's Guide to Mixing Drinks Using New and Classic Liqueurs. Boston, MA: Harvard Common, 2011. 278.
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