Rusty Nail Cocktail

Rusty Nail Cocktail recipe

The Spruce


  • Total: 3 mins
  • Prep: 3 mins
  • Cook: 0 mins
  • Serving: 1 serving
  • Yield: 1 cocktail
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
175 Calories
2g Fat
9g Carbs
9g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1
Amount per serving
Calories 175
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 2g 2%
Saturated Fat 0g 1%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 11mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 9g 3%
Dietary Fiber 6g 20%
Protein 9g
Calcium 6mg 0%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

The rusty nail is the ultimate scotch cocktail. If you're a fan of that style of whisky, this is definitely a drink you should know. The best part is that you can choose whichever Scotch whisky you like and make it as top-shelf as you wish. Don't worry, you will not be wasting a great scotch by mixing it into a rusty nail.

The cocktail is a very simple mix of scotch and Drambuie on the rocks. It is designed to be a sophisticated, slow-sipping drink and it's excellent after dinner. Be sure to play with the whisky, switching from blended to single malts and exploring various brands. You may also want to adjust the ratio of the two spirits to fit your taste as well as the whisky you're pouring at the moment.


Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Rusty Nail Cocktail recipe
     The Spruce
  2. Pour the ingredients into an old-fashioned glass with ice cubes.

    Rusty Nail Cocktail recipe
     The Spruce
  3. Stir well.

    Rusty Nail Cocktail recipe
     The Spruce


Recipe Variation

As with many simple classic cocktails, the proportions of the two ingredients will depend on your personal taste. The 2:1 ratio in the recipe is a good starting point, though many rusty nail fans enjoy 3:1 (2 ounces scotch and 1/2 ounce Drambuie).

Why Is It Called a Rusty Nail?

Like many cocktail stories, the true origin of the rusty nail is lost to history. There are speculations, including that it was introduced in 1937 at the British Industries Fair along with a dash of bitters. Another account credits its invention to Manhattan's 21 Club (possibly in the '60s), where the B&B is also said to have originated. It's also unclear when and why the cocktail took its name. One common tale says that it was originally stirred with a rusty nail, while another attributes it to the drink's color. One thing that is not up for debate is that this was a preferred drink for the Rat Pack and they helped it rise to fame.

What's the Best Scotch for a Rusty Nail?

Blended Scotch whisky is typically used in the rusty nail. Choose one of the mid- to high-end bottles and save the cheaper bottles for other drinks. Just because blended is preferred, don't rule out a single malt scotch. This drink enhances every regional nuance wonderfully. It's a perfect mixed drink for testing new bottles.

What's a Substitute for Drambuie?

Drambuie is a proprietary liqueur recipe of honey and spices with a scotch base and its taste is unlike any other liqueur on the market. There's no great substitute and it will no longer be a true rusty nail without Drambuie. The closest liqueur alternative is Glayva, though it's softer, and Chivas Regal's Lochan Ora, which has been discontinued. Neither of those is as easy to find as Drambuie, and having a bottle in your bar is not a bad thing! Not only can you enjoy a rusty nail any time you please, but it can also be useful in a variety of other cocktails. Plus, Drambuie is fabulous on its own or with ginger ale, and, at 80-proof, you won't even miss the whisky.

How Strong Is the Rusty Nail?

The rusty nail is typically made with two 80-proof liquors, though scotch can be stronger. That means it's not only full of flavor but among the strongest cocktails you can mix up. On average, the rusty nail's alcohol content falls around 33 percent ABV (66 proof), or just slightly lower than the whisky's bottling strength.