16 Great Scotch Cocktails You Won't Want to Miss

Break Free From the Fear of Mixing Scotch

illustration of scotch cocktails

The Spruce / Hilary Allison

Scotch cocktails are not a waste of good whisky. They are, instead, an opportunity to explore the play of the whisky's distinct characteristics against an array of fascinating flavors.

It's true that many drinkers prefer to sip their scotch with little more than an ice cube or splash of water. However, there's no need to fear mixing a great scotch, whether it's a blend or a single malt. From classic drinks to new cocktails that will stretch your imagination and taste buds, these cocktail recipes are begging for a pour of scotch.

  • 01 of 16

    Rusty Nail

    Rusty Nail

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    The rusty nail is an icon in the world of scotch cocktails and it's the perfect drink to use when exploring new bottles of scotch. This simple and sophisticated mix pairs the whisky with Drambuie, and it's also the signature cocktail for the scotch-based liqueur.

  • 02 of 16

    Rob Roy

    Rob Roy

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    The Rob Roy is also known as a scotch Manhattan, and that alone should clue you in to the recipe. A Manhattan is a very simple cocktail of whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters. While the Manhattan's whiskey is a matter of personal preference, scotch is always found in the Rob Roy.

  • 03 of 16

    Affinity

    Classic Affinity Cocktail

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    There's a scotch version of nearly any famous whiskey drink. When it comes to the perfect Manhattan, the scotch counterpart is the affinity cocktail. Simply stir scotch with equal amounts of sweet and dry vermouth, add some orange bitters, and a pleasant dinner cocktail awaits.

  • 04 of 16

    Scotch and Soda

    Scotch and Soda

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    Interested in sprucing up your whisky without any distracting flavors? The scotch and soda is the drink for you! Requiring just the two named ingredients, this is more of a serving suggestion than a "recipe." And yet, there are a number of factors that will affect how you mix it up and that can change with each whisky you pour.

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  • 05 of 16

    Scotch Sour

    Scotch Sour Cocktail

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    The classic scotch sour is little more than an upgrade to scotch on the rocks. It's also a brilliant way to enhance some of the softer aspects of a great whisky. The mix is as simple as adding a touch of fresh lemon juice and shaking the two ingredients. Every scotch is going to require a different amount of citrus, and finding your preferences is half the fun.

  • 06 of 16

    Blood and Sand

    Blood and Sand Cocktail
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    When you're ready for a complex cocktail, the blood and sand is an excellent choice. Like the Manhattan, this recipe uses scotch and sweet vermouth, though it adds cherry brandy and orange juice to the mix. The result is a wonderfully fruity and delicious drink.

  • 07 of 16

    Robert Burns

    Robert Burns Cocktail

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    The Robert Burns is often hidden in the shadows of its more famous counterparts. That pesky absinthe ban certainly didn't help its notoriety. Today, this classic cocktail is seeing new light. Quite simply, the recipe adds orange bitters and absinthe to the Rob Roy. The anise liqueur's bold profile can quickly throw the drink out of balance, so be sure to take it easy.

  • 08 of 16

    Mamie Taylor

    Classic Mamie Taylor Cocktail

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    The Moscow mule has nothing on this scotch cocktail! Created in 1899 and named for the opera singer who requested it, this old-fashioned cocktail puts ginger beer or ale to good use with scotch and a hint of lime. It's such a great drink that the Mamie Taylor is actually more famous today than its namesake.

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  • 09 of 16

    Godfather

    Godfather Cocktail Recipe

     The Spruce 

    Another old-timey favorite, the godfather should definitely not be overlooked. The recipe adds a short pour of amaretto to the whisky. Unlike the tart citrus of the sour, this does the opposite, bringing in a subtle sweetness that makes it an easy drinker almost everyone will enjoy.

  • 10 of 16

    Smoked Rose

    Smoked Rose Scotch Whisky Cocktail

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    The smoked rose is the ideal transition to modern and slightly more complex drinks. This recipe plays up scotch's well-known smoky profile. It begins by smoking a glass with burning rosemary then adds a pour of rosemary syrup and Green Chartreuse.

  • 11 of 16

    Ruby Queen

    Rob Krueger's Ruby Queen Cocktail with Cutty Sark Scotch Whisky

    Cutty Sark Scotch Whisky

    You really need to be ready for an adventure for this recipe. While some whisky enthusiasts may call it absurd, the ruby queen is a fascinating and unique way to drink scotch. To make it, you'll mix whiskey, beet juice, honey, and lemon, then garnish it with tarragon. It's surprisingly good.

  • 12 of 16

    The Great Pumpkin

    The Great Pumpkin Cocktail
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    Pumpkin is a favorite autumnal flavor, and it can really work out well with scotch. The great pumpkin cocktail begins with a pumpkin-infused scotch and layers ginger, lemon, maple, and cinnamon flavors on top. It's a charming experience you won't want to miss.

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  • 13 of 16

    Gillie Fix

    Gillie Fix Scotch Whisky Cocktail for Game of Thrones

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    Developed with "Game of Thrones" in mind, the Gillie fix is a very approachable cocktail. The recipe's mix of peach brandy, rum, lemon juice, and simple syrup is a wonderful complement to scotch. Served over crushed ice, it's a great summertime drink.

  • 14 of 16

    Witch Hunt

    Witch Hunt Cocktail Recipe

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    Whether it's summer or Halloween, the witch hunt is a cocktail recipe you'll come back to time and again. This is an excuse to pick up Strega, a "witches liqueur" with dominant mint, juniper, anise, and fennel flavors. It's mixed with scotch, dry vermouth, and (of all things) lemonade. Don't judge it until you try it!

  • 15 of 16

    The Brogue

    The Brogue Scotch and Lavender Cocktail

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    Floral herbs are a pleasant complement to scotch. In the brogue, lavender shows off its pairing potential. The recipe is like a sweetened hybrid of the rusty nail and scotch sour. Its key ingredient is a homemade lavender honey syrup that's fun to mix into other cocktails as well.

  • 16 of 16

    Smoky Martini

    Smoky Martini With a Lemon Twist

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    Scotch plays a supporting role in this twist on the classic martini. In the smoky martini, vermouth is eliminated and the gin is increased. All you need is a dash of scotch, so you won't feel bad about using the good stuff. The smokier it is, the more interesting flavor becomes.