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The Rusty Nail

a glass of rusty nail

Cocktails are an entrance into a world where understatement and elegance coexist in one glass. This drink, the Rusty Nail, has been around for a long time, and its strong flavors and understated elegance have made it a classic. One of my favorite things about this drink is how well it complements any meal or event with its subtle sweetness and rich depth. What makes the Rusty Nail such an exceptional cocktail? We’ll go into that now.

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Tasting Notes

The Rusty Nail is a balanced combination of smokey, sweet, and herbal undertones. Scotch whisky and Drambuie, the principal ingredients, produce a complex array of tastes. The smooth, smokey Scotch will hit your palate first, and then the honey, herbs, and spices in the Drambuie will add layers of sweetness and complexity. Cocktail connoisseurs will like this drink for all its complexity and personality.

Equipment and Glassware

This classic cocktail, the Rusty Nail, is noted for its depth of taste and its simplicity of preparation. To make one, you’ll need the following equipment and glassware:


  • 1.5 ounces Scotch whisky
  • 3/4 ounces Drambuie
  • Lemon peel garnish


  1. Pour the scotch and Drambuie into a mixing glass with ice
  2. Stir until thoroughly chilled
  3. Strain into a rocks glass with one ice cube
  4. Garnish with a lemon peel
See also  Scotch Negroni

Pro Tips

If you want your Rusty Nail to stand out, try adding some big ice cubes or even just one ice ball to your glass. You won’t have to worry about diluting your drink because they melt more slowly than conventional ice cubes. To get the ideal harmony of sugar and smoke, try varying the proportions of Scotch and Drambuie.

When to Serve

Extremely versatile, Rusty Nail can be incorporated into nearly any ensemble. It will be the ideal way to unwind at the end of a long day, a classy accent at a formal meal, or a cozy sidekick on a cold night. A perennial favorite, thanks to its classic good looks.

Which Liquor Brands to Choose

Which Scotch you go for—a mix or a single malt—is totally up to personal preference. A good base for the Rusty Nail would be a brand like Glenfiddich 12 Year Old or Johnnie Walker Black Label. If you must have a Drambuie, make sure it’s the original recipe. The special combination of honey, herbs, and spices is hard to replicate.

Similar Cocktails

  • Whiskey Sour: A tangy classic that balances the bite of whisky with the freshness of lemon.
  • Old Fashioned: A testament to simplicity, showcasing the depth of its whisky base.
  • Rob Roy: Similar to a Manhattan but made with Scotch, offering a smoky twist.
  • Manhattan: A rye or bourbon classic with sweet vermouth and bitters.
  • Godfather: A mix of Scotch and amaretto, balancing nutty sweetness with whisky’s warmth.


The Rusty Nail didn’t make its debut until the 1930s, but it wasn’t until the 1960s that it became widely known, thanks to the support of the Rat Pack. This cocktail showcases the liqueur Drambuie with the world-famous whisky from Scotland. The drink’s simplicity and rich flavor have kept it a bar classic for decades.

a glass of rusty nail

The Rusty Nail

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
5 from 1 vote
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Keyword: rusty nail, scotch, drambuie
Servings: 1
Author: Paul Kushner
If you're looking for a connection to the Rat Pack of the 1960s, you can't do better than with a Rusty Nail. This drink was, for a long time, the last word in sophistication, and it's still a suave pick-me-up today. It's simple, easy to make, and requires just two ingredients: Scotch and Drambuie.


  • 1.5 oz. Scotch whisky
  • 3/4 oz. Drambuie
  • Lemon peel garnish


  • Pour the scotch and Drambuie into a mixing glass with ice
  • Stir until thoroughly chilled
  • Strain into a rocks glass with one ice cube
  • Garnish with a lemon peel
Tried this recipe?Leave a comment and let us know how it was!
The Rusty Nail
Please drink responsibly, be fully accountable with your alcohol consumption, and show others respect.

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Paul Kushner

Written by Paul Kushner

Founder and CEO of MyBartender. Graduated from Penn State University. He always had a deep interest in the restaurant and bar industry. His restaurant experience began in 1997 at the age of 14 as a bus boy. By the time he turned 17 he was serving tables, and by 19 he was bartending/bar managing 6-7 nights a week.

In 2012, after a decade and a half of learning all facets of the industry, Paul opened his first restaurant/bar. In 2015, a second location followed, the latter being featured on The Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

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