Rusty Nail

Here is a drink that has an image of a hard-nosed cocktail that will put hair on your chest. Even the word cocktail doesn’t seem to go with the Rusty Nail since it is only two ingredients. Non-drinkers will have you believe this drink hearkens back to the day when men were men and dogs slept in the garage. After a hard day of work, the man of the house needed a hard drink, not one of those pink fruity drinks in a prissy martini glass. Jump forward 50 years and the world is a much different place. The Rusty Nail is appealing to both sexes and is, in fact, a simply elegant drink.

If wanted something non-fruity and robust—that will warm you up and make you taste the alcohol—the Rusty Nail will work. Similar to an Old Fashioned cocktail it will fit the bill for anyone or any guest.

I once had a guest at the bar having a bad day, and he wanted a series of drinks that would be “sailor humping strong.” The Old Fashioned was a good start, then I made a Vieux Carre, but that didn’t appear to be hitting the mark, partially because that cocktail was in my regular drink rotation. I needed a simple, strong drink that didn’t appear on the menu. That’s when I thought about a Rusty Nail.

It’s a good stiff drink, with lots of flavours and a subtle sweetness. Plus it’s straightforward to make. The only items required were a bottle of scotch, some scotch liqueur like Drambuie or Lochan Ora and some good ice. Some people add a cherry to their Rusty Nail, but I for-go that. A lemon or orange twist works better.

Yield: 1 Drink

Rusty Nail

Rusty Nail Cocktail Recipe

A simple two ingredient drink that takes the best flavours of scotch and adds a little sweetness. Similar to an Old Fashioned Cocktail.

Prep Time 30 seconds
Total Time 30 seconds


  • 2 oz Scotch
  • 1 oz Drambuie


  1. In a rocks glass with ice add the two ingredients
  2. Swirl with a barspoon to mix
  3. Serve


If you have large ice cubes or balls, they work perfectly for this drink.

Nutrition Information:

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 180
When you take the first sip of your Rusty Nail, your palate will be hit with lots of scotch flavours, like smokey peat and malt which is quickly followed by the sweetness of the scotch liqueur. In this case, I used Lochan Ora, which I find to be better than Drambuie, but it is becoming harder to find. The finish is slightly sweet and then fades to a smokey residue.

For scotch, I used Macallan 10-year-old single malt, which is modestly priced. A few scotch snobs may grumble grumbling about using a “precious” single malt and violating it with honeyed scotch liqueur but, better ingredients make for a better drink. Even though a blended scotch would work fine, I find the Macallan to be a less robust scotch than say an Islay malt which would be too edgy and some blended scotches don’t have enough of that malty flavour, so many people like. Drink what you want, and make no apologies, ever, for mixing with a single malt.

The Rusty Nail is one of those odd drinks that new drinkers think they’ll like but don’t. The idea of sweetened scotch may be appealing, but unlike other drinks where the sugar takes the edge off of the alcohol, the sweetness in a Rusty Nail gives the drink a sharper edge.

If you want something substantial, but a little more refreshing, the Stinger is a good choice.

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