Rusty Nail Cocktail


Rusty Nail Cocktail

The Rusty Nail, a cocktail that once held great popularity, has somewhat faded from bar menus and fallen out of favor among patrons. The drink is a simple combination of scotch whisky and the scotch-based liqueur Drambuie, with the name derived from Gaelic meaning "the drink that satisfies."
The origins of the Rusty Nail are shrouded in mystery and subject to debate. Many believe it was invented in 1937 for the British Industries Fair trade show. The cocktail also appears in the 1967 edition of the "Old Mister Boston Official Bartender's Guide," a renowned cocktail book of the post-Prohibition era. A similar drink called the Little Club #1 can be found in Ted Saucier's 1951 book, "Bottoms Up."
By the late 1960s, the Rusty Nail had gained popularity in bars in New Orleans and New York, with the phrase "Have you tried a Rusty Nail?" becoming common. Some credit the bartenders at the 21 Club in Manhattan, known for creating the B & B cocktail (half Bénédictine and half cognac), with inventing the Rusty Nail around the same time. While this claim is difficult to substantiate, it is plausible given the establishment's creativity with cordials and liquors.
Legend has it that the Rat Pack, including members like Frank Sinatra, had a fondness for the Rusty Nail, which may have contributed to its widespread appeal during that era. In the 1970s, the drink was a popular choice in many New York bars, including P.J. Clarke's, a favorite haunt of Sinatra.
As with many classic cocktails, the recipe for the Rusty Nail varies widely. Some suggest a two-to-one ratio of scotch to Drambuie, while others recommend equal parts. Modern variations tend to be drier, with ratios like four parts whisky to one part liqueur. It is also possible to substitute bourbon for scotch, creating a Rusty Spike. However, the classic Rusty Nail is timeless, and the two-to-one ratio will always serve as an excellent representation of the drink.

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Prep Time 2 minutes
Total Time 2 minutes

Ingredients – What’s in it?

Adjust Servings 1 serving

Instructions – How to make it:

  • Fill a chilled rocks glass with ice cubes. Add all ingredients.
  • Stir. Garnish with lemon.


Calories: 185kcal | Carbohydrates: 0.1g | Potassium: 3mg

Course Cocktail