5 Essential Scotch Cocktails You Should Know How to Make

Editor’s Note: In November 2017, we had the pleasure of spending 10 captivating days in Scotland. Below is but one adventure of many from our stay. We hope the joy we experienced comes through in all our posts and missives from our adventure, which no doubt read better with a wee dram in hand.

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Ask any of our staff here at The Manual and you will get the same answer: Scotch whisky, on its own, is a wonderful, life-giving spirit. It warms our souls and soothes our nerves. After a hard day, it is the only friend we want around (other than maybe a cigar). Neat, with a drop of water, or maybe even with a cube of ice, we enjoy it in all its forms.

There are times, too, that we enjoy it in a cocktail (you can’t always have it straight, after all — variety is the spice of life).  We’re not saying use that bottle of Macallan 50 Years Old in a drink, but if you’ve got a nice mid-shelf whisky (and who doesn’t have at least four or five these days?), it’s great to mix it up sometimes.

Below, you’ll find three classic Scotch cocktails, a classic whisky riff, and one modern classic (thanks to New York bartender Sam Ross) that you should know how to make for yourself and for any of the Scotch-loving people in your life (which, if you’re surrounding yourself with the right people, is just about everyone). None of these drinks are difficult to make, but just in case, you might want to buy a little extra of each ingredient and make a couple for yourself one night. For research purposes, of course.

The Rusty Nail

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Method: Add ingredients to a rocks glass filled with ice. Stir and garnish with a twist of lemon.

The Rob Roy


  • 2 oz Scotch whisky
  • .75 oz sweet vermouth
  • 2-3 dashes angostura bitters

Method: Add all ingredients to a mixing glass with ice and stir. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a cherry.

The Bobby Burns

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(a classic riff on the Rob Roy)

  • 2 oz Scotch whisky
  • .75 oz sweet vermouth
  • .25 oz Bénédictine
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters

Method: Add all ingredients to a mixing glass with ice and stir. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with an orange twist.

The Blood and Sand


  • .75 oz blended Scotch whisky
  • .75 oz sweet vermouth
  • .75 oz Cherry Heering
  • .75 oz blood orange juice

Method: Put all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with an orange peel. 


(Created by Sam Ross, New York City)

  • 2 oz blended Scotch whisky
  • .25 oz Islay single malt Scotch
  • .75 oz fresh lemon juice
  • .75 oz honey syrup
  • 3 slices fresh ginger

Method: Muddle ginger in cocktail shaker until well broken up. Add blended Scotch, lemon, and honey syrup. Add ice and shake well. Double strain into a rocks glass with ice and float the Islay Scotch over top by pouring over the back a bar spoon.

Once you’ve mastered these, try mixing with other spirits at home.