Cocktail & Other Recipes By Spirit Scotch Cocktails

20 Scotch Cocktails to Try Today

Scotch fans have a lot to love in this list of cocktails both modern and classic.

Smoky Martini
Smoky Martini Image: / Tim Nusog

The first half of this list is “bartender’s choice” cocktails, contemporary creations that come straight from the cocktail shakers of today’s top bartenders. The second half is classics, both pre-Prohibition standards and more modern ones that have achieved worldwide acclaim. You’re sure to find something for every palate among these 20 drinks.

Known for its status as the ultimate neat sipper, Scotch whisky is surprisingly versatile in cocktails, too, when paired with the right ingredients. Whether you’re keeping it simple with a Scotch & Soda, looking to try something new and fruity like the One-Two Punch or want a spin on a classic like the Smoky Martini, there’s a scotch cocktail to please every drinker’s wishes.

  • Drunk Uncle

    Drunk Uncle cocktail / Tim Nusog

    This is one relative you definitely won’t mind having around at a family dinner. Bartender Shawn Soole’s spin on the Negroni format, this cocktail strikes a perfect balance of strong, bitter and sweet. Islay scotch is the star, alongside equal parts of bianco vermouth and Cynar amaro. Stir it all with ice, strain and garnish with a grapefruit twist.

    Get the recipe.

  • One-Two Punch

    One Two Punch cocktail

    Jeff Bell

    This lively drink from PDT’s Jeff Bell proves that scotch can play just as nice in fruity cocktails as it can blend into spirit-forward ones. The spirit gets a bright upgrade when mixed with grapefruit juice, lemon juice and citrus oleo saccharum. Top it all with a pilsner and a pinch of spice mix, and you’ll never doubt scotch’s softer side again.

    Get the recipe.

  • Set the New Year on Fire

    Set the New Year on Fire cocktail / Tim Nusog

    Inspired by New Year’s Eve but perfect for drinking any time, this cocktail, created by Yael Vengroff, the beverage director at The Spare Room, is bound to be your next go-to when you want a flashy and visually impressive drink. Not only is the combination of scotch, Campari, lime and mint delicious, but the flaming lime-shell garnish adds a Tiki-inspired spark.

    Get the recipe.

  • Tart ’n’ Sand

    Tart n' Sand cocktail / Tim Nusog

    Turn your classic Blood & Sand on its head with this tart twist from bartending pro Charlotte Voisey. Muddled cherries get shaken with scotch, blood orange liqueur, Lillet Rouge, pink grapefruit and lemon juices, and orange bitters until all the tart, bright flavors blend. 

    Get the recipe.

    Continue to 5 of 20 below.
  • South by Southwest

    South by Southwest cocktail / Tim Nusog

    This easy Negroni riff, created by Benny McKew, earned a place in Gary Regan’s book on the classic cocktail by swapping in Ardbeg 10-year-old for the usual gin and adding a touch of orange blossom water. 

    Get the recipe.

  • Royal Balmoral Punch

    Royal Balmoral cocktail

    Charlotte Voisey

    Named for the Royal Family's Scottish summer home, this drink, another from Voisey, will transport you to the countryside with its combination of fine single malt and good English tea. A fine single malt scotch, tea syrup, Granny Smith apple juice and lemonade are topped with Champagne, then garnished with a thistle and lemon wheel for a perfectly proper presentation. 

    Get the recipe.

  • Rusty Compass

    Rusty Compass cocktail / Tim Nusog

    From Meaghan Dorman, the bar director at Dear Irving and The Raines Law Room, this Rusty Nail twist adds Heering cherry liqueur to the usual scotch and Drambuie mixture for an extra touch of sweetness and depth of flavor.

    Get the recipe.

  • Big Red

    Big Red cocktail / Tim Nusog

    Even the King of Beers can benefit from improvement. This easy mixture from bar pro Casey Elsass is here to help. The beer gets a boozy boost from Johnnie Walker Red scotch, while a splash of ginger beer adds a hint of spice and some extra bubbles. Together, the three form a drink that’s snappy and crushable. 

    Get the recipe.

    Continue to 9 of 20 below.
  • Prophet in Plain Clothes

    Prophet in Plain Clothes cocktail / Tim Nusog

    The bold character of Laphroaig is softened by two amari and sweet vermouth in this cocktail from Kraig Rovensky, the general manager of Life on Mars in Seattle. The result is a smoky, bitter sipper that will please any Rob Roy drinker.

    Get the recipe.

  • Smoky Martini

    Smoky Martini

    Dale DeGroff

    Scotch in a Martini? You bet. Legendary bartender Dale DeGroff’s spin on the ultimate classic cocktail uses scotch instead of vermouth to create a smoky, irresistible drink. Gin and blended scotch are stirred with ice, then strained into a chilled glass and garnished with a lemon twist.

    Get the recipe.

  • Blood & Sand

    Blood and sand cocktail / Tim Nusog

    This classic cocktail has been a mainstay since it was invented in 1930. Smooth scotch (be careful to choose one that’s not too smoky) and sweet vermouth get their blood color from Heering cherry liqueur; orange juice represents the sand. Shake it all together and then strain and garnish with an orange peel.

    Get the recipe.

  • Rob Roy

    Rob Roy cocktail / Tim Nusog

    The Scottish folk hero was the inspiration for this drink, as well as the source of its name. The recipe itself is a nod to the classic Manhattan, with its sweet vermouth and Angostura bitters, but here scotch replaces the traditional rye whiskey. Garnish with two speared brandied cherries for a timeless presentation.

    Get the recipe.

    Continue to 13 of 20 below.
  • Scotch & Soda

    Scotch & Soda / Tim Nusog

    Simple, straightforward and seductive, this cocktail doesn’t need much to be a home run. Plus, it’s so easy you can make it virtually whenever the mood strikes. Simply top a couple of ounces of scotch with club soda in a highball glass filled with ice until the drink reaches your preferred ratio. 

    Get the recipe.

  • Penicillin

    Penicillin cocktail / Tim Nusog

    Though it has only been around since the mid-2000s, this riff on the Gold Rush has become a true modern classic. Blended scotch forms the backbone for lemon juice and homemade honey-ginger syrup, all coming together when shaken with ice, strained and then topped with Islay single malt scotch. Garnish with a piece of candied ginger to finish it all off.

    Get the recipe.

  • Rusty Nail

    Rusty Nail cocktail / Tim Nusog

    A favorite for decades, this simple recipe is perfect for throwing together as a nightcap after dinner. Just add scotch and Drambuie to a glass with ice, stir and serve. It’s really that easy. No wonder it has stuck around for so long.

    Get the recipe.

  • Presbyterian

    Presbyterian cocktail / Tim Nusog

    If you treat scotch like it’s your religion, then this is the cocktail for you. Fill a highball glass with ice and add 2 ounces of scotch, then top with a mixture of your favorite spicy ginger ale and club soda for a light and refreshing result. 

    Get the recipe.

    Continue to 17 of 20 below.
  • Bobby Burns

    Bobby Burns cocktail / Tim Nusog

    Named for the Scottish poet, this drink will have you reciting your favorite couplets and quatrains in no time. Stir blended scotch, sweet vermouth and Benedictine with ice, then strain into a cocktail glass and serve with a lemon twist.

    Get the recipe.

  • Mamie Taylor

    Mamie Taylor cocktail

    Michael Dietsch

    Named for a famous opera singer and said to have been invented sometime around 1899, this turn-of-the-century stunner is a cooling highball you won’t want to put down. Blended scotch and lime juice are topped with ginger beer for a drink that’s reminiscent of a Moscow Mule with an extra punch. 

    Get the recipe.

  • Sin Cyn

    Sin Cyn cocktail

    Paul Dellevigne

    Simple yet sophisticated, this modern classic will take you from before-dinner drinks straight through your final nightcap. Just combine single malt scotch, Cynar amaro and Carpano Antica Formula vermouth in equal parts to give the Negroni format a scotch spin. 

    Get the recipe.

  • Blue Blazer

    Blue Blazer cocktail / Tim Nusog

    Light up the night with this flaming cocktail. Created in Gold Rush-era San Francisco, this spin on a Hot Toddy is made by pouring a flaming combination of scotch, boiling water and sugar between two mugs. Once the mixture is extinguished, garnish with lemon wheels and enjoy. Just make sure you keep a fire extinguisher on hand in case things get a little wild.

    Get the recipe.