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Rusty Nail (cocktail)

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Subject: List of cocktails, Rusty Nail, Cocktails with whisky, Kir Royal, Bramble (cocktail)
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Rusty Nail (cocktail)

Rusty Nail
IBA Official Cocktail
Type Cocktail
Primary alcohol by volume
Served On the rocks; poured over ice
Standard garnish

Lemon twist

Standard drinkware
Old Fashioned glass
IBA specified ingredients*
Preparation Pour all ingredients directly into old-fashioned glass filled with ice. Stir gently. Garnish with a lemon twist. Serve.

A Rusty Nail is made by mixing Drambuie and Scotch whisky. The drink was included in Difford's Guide Top 100 Cocktails.[1] Some prefer less Drambuie to decrease the sweetness of the drink. Scotch whisky has a fairly biting and hot taste that is counterbalanced by the honeyed, herbal overtones of the Drambuie. A Rusty Nail can be served in an old-fashioned glass on the rocks, neat, or "up" in a stemmed glass. It is most commonly served over ice. A Rusty Nail served without ice is sometimes called a Straight Up Nail.


Versions of the drink can be made using any aged spirit, though blended Scotch whisky is traditional.[2]

Other variations include:


According to cocktail historian David Wondrich, "the Rusty Nail took a while to find its proper place in the world." The combination of Drambuie—"the world's most distinguished Scotch-based liqueur"—and the whisky it is made from first appears in 1937 in the form of the B.I.F., credited to one F. Benniman and ostensibly named after the British Industries Fair.[5] Wondrich goes on to note that "it took another generation or so for the drink to assume its classic name and form, during which time it tried on several identities. Here it's a D&S...there a Little Club No. 1 (the Little Club being a rather swank sort of joint on East Fifty-fifth Street much haunted by showbiz types); at USAF Officers' Clubs in Thailand and the Republic of Viet-Nam, it's a Mig-21, while in the upper Midwest it's a Knucklehead." [6]

The cocktail authority Dale DeGroff notes, "the Rusty Nail is often credited to the clever bartenders at the 21 Club in Manhattan sometime in the early 1960s." [7] The cocktail's name was finally cemented in 1963, when Gina MacKinnon, the chairwoman of the Drambuie Liqueur Company, gave the Rusty Nail her endorsement in The New York Times.[8] DeGroff observes that in the early 1960s "the Rat Pack was enamored of the drink, which may have been responsible for the wide appeal in those years." [9]


  1. ^ "Top 100 Cocktails". Difford's Guide. July 9, 2013. Retrieved December 3, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Rusty Nail recipe". Drinks Mixer. Retrieved December 3, 2013. 
  3. ^ Caporale, Anthony (July 9, 2013). "Tales of the Cocktail: Cocktails Made with Drambuie". Good Morning New Orleans. Retrieved December 3, 2013. 
  4. ^ Hillibish, Jim (August 19, 2010). "Highland fling: Drambuie isn't just for after dinner".  
  5. ^ Wondrich, David. "Rusty Nail".  
  6. ^ Wondrich, David. "Rusty Nail".  
  7. ^ Degroff, Dale. "Behind the Bar: The Rusty Nail". Retrieved December 3, 2013. 
  8. ^ "Rusty Nail". Liquor And Drink. Retrieved December 3, 2013. 
  9. ^ Degroff, Dale. "Behind the Bar: The Rusty Nail". Retrieved December 3, 2013. 

Rusty Nail Club Guestlist

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