10 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. Instead, they are an opportunity to explore the play of the whisky's distinct characteristics against 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. From classic drinks to new cocktails that stretch your imagination, let's explore cocktail recipes that are begging for a pour of scotch.

  • 01 of 10

    Rusty Nail

    Rusty Nail

    The Spruce


    The Rusty Nail is an icon in the world of scotch cocktails. It is also the perfect drink to use when exploring a new Scotch.

    This drink is a simple and sophisticated mix that pairs the whisky with Drambuie. The scotch-based liqueur has been around for centuries and this is its signature cocktail.

    Mix a good blended Scotch into your next Rusty Nail. If you are feeling bold, try a top-shelf single malt like those from The Glenlivet.

  • 02 of 10

    Rob Roy

    Rob Roy Cocktail

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    The Rob Roy is also known as a Scotch Manhattan. That name alone should clue you into what the mix includes.

    A Manhattan is a very simple cocktail that pairs whisky with sweet vermouth and bitters. The whisky poured is up to debate and personal preference, but scotch is always found in the Rob Roy.

    Again, blended Scotch is often preferred, though there's no reason to discount a single malt. A really nice place to begin is with the Speyside expressions from The Macallan.

  • 03 of 10

    Blood and Sand

    Blood and Sand Cocktail
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    Once you have explored the effect of different whiskies in those simple and clean cocktails, it's time to get a little more complex. The Blood and Sand cocktail is an excellent way to do that.

    This recipe also uses scotch and sweet vermouth, though it adds cherry brandy and orange juice. The result is a wonderfully fruity and delicious drink.

    This is where you will want to choose a blended Scotch whisky. Any of the younger expressions from Chivas Regal and Johnnie Walker are ideal.

  • 04 of 10

    Scotch Sour

    Scotch Sour Cocktail

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    The classic Scotch Sour is another very simple drink. Little more than an upgrade to scotch on the rocks, it is 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. Yet, every scotch is going to require a different amount of citrus.

    Other than the most luxurious bottles, you really cannot go wrong with anything you pour. The blends are great, but this drink really shines with a single malt like Highland Park 12 Year.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    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 didn't help, either. Today, however, this classic cocktail is seeing new light.

    This one adds orange bitters and absinthe to the Rob Roy. The anise liqueur's bold profile can quickly throw the drink out of balance, so take it easy.

    A smooth blend like Ballantine's Finest is a great choice here. For a new experience, try the salty-Highland single malts from the Oban Distillery.

  • 06 of 10


    Godfather Cocktail - Easy Scotch Cocktail Recipe

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    The last of our old-timey favorites, the godfather is another simple mix that enhances your favorite scotch. It is one that should definitely not be overlooked.

    The recipe adds a short pour of amaretto to the whisky. Rather than the tart citrus of the sour, this does the opposite and brings in a subtle sweetness.

    It's hard to find a bad combination of scotch and amaretto. While you can play with single malts, a decent and affordable blend like Dewar's White Label is a good place to begin.

  • 07 of 10

    Smoked Rose

    The Black Grouse Scotch Whisky's Smoked Rose Cocktail

    The Spruce / Howard Rise for The Black Grouse

    It is now time to really explore the potential of scotch and test it out in modern and slightly more complex drinks. The Smoked Rose is the ideal transition.

    Scotch is known for its smoky profile and this recipe plays on that. It begins with a glass smoked with burning rosemary before adding a pour of rosemary syrup and Green Chartreuse.

    This fascinating drink comes with a great scotch recommendation. The Black Grouse is a nice blended whisky that can fit into anyone's budget.

  • 08 of 10

    Gold Mine

    Gold Mine Cocktail

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    Retaining some sophistication and classic style, the Gold Mine is an interesting taste experience. It's also one of the most complex scotch cocktails you'll find.

    This recipe pours Galliano, sherry, lime juice, and lemonade. It also adds an egg white to the shaker to give it a great mouthfeel. 

    Since there is so much going on here, we really like to stick with a blended scotch. A favorite choice is Famous Grouse because it lends this rather bright drink a smooth, smoky background.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Ruby Queen

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

    The Spruce / Cutty Sark Scotch Whisky

    You really need to be ready for an adventure for these last drinks. Some whisky enthusiasts may even call them absurd. However, these will certainly break any fears of mixing scotch.

    The Ruby Queen is beyond unique. The recipe asks you to pour red beet juice with honey and lemon, then garnish it with tarragon. It's surprisingly good.

    With a flavor profile like that, it's okay to go lower on the scotch shelf. A great choice here is the affordable blended whisky from Cutty Sark.

  • 10 of 10

    The Great Pumpkin

    The Great Pumpkin Cocktail
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    Beets may be too far of a stretch for some, so let's dial it back and talk pumpkin. When played right, this autumnal flavor can really work out well with scotch.

    Case in point, the Great Pumpkin cocktail. The recipe begins with a pumpkin-infused scotch and layers ginger, lemon, maple, and cinnamon flavors on top. It's a refined experience you won't want to miss.

    Surprisingly, the recommended whisky here is a single malt. Specifically, the smooth Speyside taste of The Glenrothes.