Classic Scotch Cocktails To Sip on a Winter Evening

Scotch is rarely thought of as a base liquor for cocktails. Instead, it’s considered a drink best sipped slowly—neat or on the rocks. A type of whisky crafted in Scotland under strict production regulations, the drink is known for its intensity of taste. While many adore (and pay top dollar for) its combination of smoky and peaty flavors, those same punchy notes make it a hard spirit for mixing a balanced cocktail. With the right ingredients, though, Scotch can make an excellent base for a delicious mixed drink, especially to keep you warm on a chilly winter night.

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There are a handful of different types of Scotch on the market. Blended Scotch has a smooth finish, somewhat like bourbon, but presents with a spicier taste. It’s made by blending two different types of whisky together and is usually the preferred variety for mixing cocktails. Among the other Scotch whiskies that differentiate themselves based on the technical aspects of how they're distilled, the variety you’ll typically encounter is single malt Scotch, which has a much more piquant flavor compared to its blended cousin (and a higher price tag to match).

If you’re new to the mixology game, a monthly cocktail box may be just the thing to help you take on this delightful and delicious hobby—with Scotch and other spirits. Some, such as the Homemade Cocktail Mixers Box, provide an assortment of specialized ingredients to make mixers at home, where they’ll be free from the artificial colors and sweeteners that many store-bought brands carry. Others, such as Whisky Flavour or the New World of Whisky Journey Box, offer an assortment of different whiskies from around the world, allowing you to expand your palate and choose the one that works best in your favorite cocktail. And with the Bitters Lab Club, where you receive new, limited-edition bitters every quarter, you’ll be able to infuse new life into any cocktail recipe.

If peaty libations are calling your name, read on to learn about a handful of classic, easy-to-mix Scotch-based cocktails.

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Scotch Sour

You’ve likely heard of this cocktail’s more famous kin, the whiskey sour, but the same drink can take on added depth and dimension when mixed with a blended Scotch whisky. Although you can make this drink easily with a pre-bought sour mix, it’s actually simple to make what constitutes “sour mix” with ingredients you likely already have around the house: lemon juice, simple syrup, and egg whites. Known for being refreshingly sweet and tart, the peaty flavors of the Scotch work to balance out the sour’s saccharine acidity, creating a well-rounded cocktail.

Rob Roy

Very similar to a Manhattan, incorporating both sweet vermouth and Angostura bitters, a Rob Roy swaps the traditional rye whiskey for Scotch. The cocktail itself is as Scottish as they come as it is named for Robert Roy MacGregor: a Scottish soldier, cattleman, and Jacobite outlaw who became an infamous folk hero. Any Scotch will be excellent in this drink, which has been gracing tables since 1894. The Rob Roy is a go-to slow sipper for many Scotch buffs, and is best topped off with one (or two) brandied cherries.

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The Godfather

This two-ingredient drink inspired by the movie of the same name—and the titular character who was always sipping Scotch—is a cocktail you simply can’t refuse. A blend of Scotch whisky and amaretto served on the rocks, the punchy, nutty sweetness of the amaretto makes it a great cocktail for those who are new to Scotch drinking. Unlike other drinks that rose to prominence in the 1970s (looking at you, Harvey Wallbanger!) this cocktail is one that’s balanced and enduring.

Rusty Nail

Although the name may be off-putting to some, the rusty nail is a cocktail designed for the Scotch drinkers among us. Typically served over ice, this drink mixes equal parts Scotch whisky and Drambuie, a 40 percent alcohol-by-volume liqueur made from honey, herbs, spices, and—wait for it—Scotch whisky. With its mellow sweetness and subtle boozy intensity, the Rusty Nail packs quite a flavorful punch into a deceptively simple drink, making it an ideal, mellow after-dinner treat.