Rusty Nail Cocktail

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rusty nail cocktail in a glass

So, what exactly is a “Rusty Nail,” you ask? Some tales send us back in time to 1963, when Scotsman bearing dirty fingernails would walk into a bar requesting a boozy scotch-based cocktail be prepared for their arrival.

Another tells the story of Al Brown, a bartender in Glasgow who came up with the cocktail one day when a customer demanded scotch but in the form of a cocktail as opposed to its traditional service, straight up. Other stories explain its origins in the 1960s in New York as opposed to Scotland as it was a favorite among Frank Sinatra and other members of the rat pack.

Although its origin appears to be somewhat of a mystery, this punchy scotch-forward cocktail made a name for itself in the 1960s and lately, has been coming back into style! It is classically prepared with scotch whiskey, Drambuie, and lemon juice.

It is the perfect cocktail to warm you up on those cold winter nights. While it appears to be something from the English-speaking world, we added it to our Chandigarh series because Scotch is an import to the Indian subcontinent and for those Indians that do enjoy a cocktail or two in the evenings, Scotch-based cocktails are among their favorites. Not to mention, Drambuie packs a ton of warm spice flavors reminiscent of the tastes of India.

So, dive in below to learn our version of this classic cocktail!

rusty nail cocktail ingredients


How to Make an Orange Twist

Are you envious of those mixologists you spot behind the bar, whipping up fancy drinks with ease? All those tips and tricks aren’t too difficult when you are equipped with a simple set of instructions.

This recipe calls for an orange twist to garnish the drink. Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Slice a long strip from the orange’s skin.
  2. Remove most of the excess pith (or white substance between the peel and the fruit) with a small knife.
  3. Trim the edges of the strip to create a rectangle. Cut the short edges at an angle.
  4. Twist the orange peel strip in opposite directions on either side and place it on the side of your cocktail.

Still unsure of how to achieve this? Check out this video.

You will find this technique performed during the second demonstration. However, there are multiple citrus twists demonstrated in this video if you prefer something fancier for your cocktail!

Alternatives to Benriach Scotch

Since this is a very boozy cocktail and Scotch is a predominant ingredient, we recommend you choose a Scotch that you wouldn’t mind drinking by itself. For this reason, we chose a scotch that is smooth and palatable neat, or on the rocks. If you cannot find Benriach’s 10-year-old Scotch, we suggest the following alternatives:

  • Glenrondach 12-Year Old Scotch
  • Macallan 12-Year Old Scotch
  • Dalmore 12-Year Old Scotch
  • Glenkinchie 12-Year Old Scotch
rusty nail cocktail in glasses

What to Snack on With a Rusty Nail Cocktail?

rusty nail cocktail in a glass

Love Your Leftovers

Extra Drambuie?

  • Splash some into your afternoon coffee or hot cocoa for a kick!
  • Mix it with sparkling wine and orange juice for a summer cocktail.
  • Shake up a Kingston Club Cocktail
rusty nail cocktail in a glass
Rusty Nail Cocktail
For a boozy punchy cocktail, look no further than our spin on a 1960s classic knowns as the “Rusty Nail” cocktail made with scotch whiskey, Drambuie, and lemon juice.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Cocktail
Cuisine American, British, Scottish
Servings 2
Calories 136 kcal


  • 2 oz. Benriach 10-year-old Scotch
  • 2 oz. Drambuie
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • 8 dashes cardamom bitters
  • 1 tsp cane sugar garnish
  • 1 orange Cara Cara (garnish)


Juice the Lemons
  • Slice open and juice the lemons. Set aside.
  • Peel two long strips from the orange’s skin to make two orange twists. See the “Need-to-Know” section for a video demonstration.
  • Slice an orange wedge. Set aside.
Sugar the Rim of the Glass (Optional)
  • Run the fruit of the orange wedge along the rim of each whiskey glass so that the juice of the orange renders the rim sticky.
  • Evenly spread cane sugar onto a flat plate.
  • Roll the rim of each glass in the cane sugar until the rim appears coated in sugar.
Mix the Cocktail
  • Add Benriach Scotch, Drambuie, lemon juice, and ice into a cocktail shaker.
  • Add cardamom bitters.
  • Shake well.
Serve the Cocktail
  • Pour the liquid into each glass over ice.
  • Garnish with an orange twist.
  • Serve and enjoy.


Calories: 136kcalCarbohydrates: 14gProtein: 1gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 1mgPotassium: 15mgFiber: 1gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 1IUVitamin C: 5mgCalcium: 1mgIron: 1mg
Keyword approachable, boozy, classic, Easy, Scotch
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!


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About Savory Suitcase
Hello, I’m Kristina, Founder and Head Blogger of Savory Suitcase… the one-stop-shop for the international foodie. 

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Hello, I’m Kristina, Founder and Head Blogger of Savory Suitcase… the one-stop-shop for the international foodie.


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