Four Cocktails Putting Drambuie to Work in Unexpected Ways

Some of NYC's best bartenders invent cocktails for the Scotch whisky and honey liqueur

With the onset of autumn, a range of flavor profiles and characteristics return to favor. After a recent competition between some of New York City’s most expressive bartenders, the sometimes misunderstood Drambuie—a Scotch whisky liqueur from the Isle of Skye incorporating honey, heather and herbs—should be taken into consideration once again. More than a component in the Rusty Nail classic cocktail, Drambuie’s sweet and lightly spiced essence can be a dynamic addition to a slew of drinks. When many people hear the name, there are vague parental (or grandparental) associations—or a vision of the bottle. Really, though, as cocktail-making continues to advance, incorporating ingredients both new and renewed, Drambuie’s got something that others simply do not. Below, four cocktails highlight the way the liqueur pairs with Scotch (of course) but also alcohols like mezcal and sherry. The back-bar of today is about more than a diverse range of products like Drambuie; it’s also about knowing how to use them all in interesting ways.

Peni for Your Thoughts

Created by Tracey Mellon of NYC’s acclaimed American Whiskey bar and restaurant, the Peni for Your Thoughts contains two surprises. First, Mellon employs the aged (and sometimes hard to come by) Drambuie 15 Year Old. Further, it’s a mezcal cocktail that’s strongly spiced thanks to the Ancho Reyes.

1.5 oz Drambuie 15 Year Old

.75 oz Montelobos mezcal

.50 Ancho Reyes liqueur

.25 oz ginger syrup

2 dashes of orange bitters

Shake all ingredients, strain over big rock and garnish with lemon peel.


Punch & Pie NYC‘s Logan Ronkainen developed our personal favorite, the Shibari. Japanese Whisky plays the dominate role here, in conjunction with the Drambuie. The name references a Japanese decorative rope tying technique used to make wearable fashion. Below, there’s also a recipe for its grapefruit-pistachio shrub.

1 oz Drambuie

1 oz Japanese whisky

1 oz grapefruit-pistachio shrub

.5 oz lemon juice

Stir ingredients. Pour into “Shibari” tied glassware—stemmed highball or wine glass will work, bound with twine. Express and discard grapefruit peel. Pistachios served on the side.

Grapefruit Pistachio Shrub

6.5 fl oz grapefruit juice

1.5 fl oz cup fine champagne vinegar

1 fl oz fresh ginger juice

1/2 cup sugar

8 oz pistachios

Combine in a blender or food processor and pulse. Let stand for an hour. Strain.

MacKinnon Sour

Drambuie is the dominant component of this cocktail—disrupted by four other ingredients each offering a diverse new flavors. Sherry and Ancho Reyes lend their spicy complexity but lemon juice creates an unexpected brightness. David Alan Roth of Covina, one of NYC’s best new restaurants, created the MacKinnon Sour.

1 oz Drambuie

.25 oz Ancho Reyes liqueur

.25 oz Angostura bitters

.25 oz Manzanilla sherry

.50 oz fresh lemon juice

1 egg white

Angostura bitters as garnish

Shake all ingredients with ice for 10 seconds. Discard ice and dry shake for another 10 seconds. Strain into a chilled Nick and Nora glass. Garnish with 3 drops of angostura bitters then express lemon oil from peel over the froth.

Bonnie Prince

Created by Cliff Mejia of Bathtub Gin images the Bonnie Prince and it’s a whole lot of joy all in one. From Irish whiskey and absinthe to sherry and apricot eau de vie, there are multuple spirits within. Rather than compete for attention, they blend into a sweet, complex cocktail that definitely delivers a punch.

2 oz Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey

1 oz Dambuie

.5 oz Lustau Amontillado sherry

.25 oz Apricot Eau de Vie

3 dashes of absinthe

3 dashes of orange bitters

Stir. Serve up in a Coupe with a lemon twist.

Images courtesy of Fine Young Man