Rusty Nail – Original Recipe

Rusty Nail Cocktail
Rusty Nail Cocktail

The History Of The Rusty Nail Cocktail.

The standard history of the Rusty Nail cocktail is it was invented in the 1930s at the British Industries Fair and was called a B.I.F cocktail. However, I cannot find any reference to it in American or European cocktail books from the 1930s to the 1960s. The earliest reference to the Rusty Nail I can find is from the April 1968 issue of Playboy. In the nightlife and Liqueur section, Liqueur Legerdemain, Thomas Mario says, “The latest, the Rusty Nail, is also one of the most mellow—a simple libation of Scotch on the rocks with a float of Drambuie.” Thomas refers to the Rusty Nail cocktail as a new liqueur cocktail, and it was around this time the first Rusty Nail was printed in a cocktail book. The 1972 Trader Vic’s Bartender Guide has a recipe for a Rusty Nail that is 1:1 Scotch and Drambuie. Searching the American and British newspaper archives, the Rusty Nail cocktail was mentioned in the 1980s. Looking through all this, I could not locate the cocktail’s inventor or where it originated from. It’s more likely the Rusty Nail was invented in the 1960s than the 1930s.

How To Mix a Rusty Nail.

The trick to mixing an excellent rusty nail is to mix it as little as possible. Some recipes cool the scotch and then add the Drambuie without any additional mixing. This cocktail is in the same spirit as the B&B, and it benefits from a less chilled and slight separation of the ingredients.

The ratio of Drambuie to Scotch is variable too. The lower end tends to be 1/2 oz (15 mLs) to 2 oz (60 mLs) scotch, and the higher end is the Trader Vic style 1:1. I prefer the ratio below of 2/3 oz Drambuie to 2 oz Scotch.

Recipe Resources


Download The Official Vintage American Cocktails App

Discover what classic cocktails you can make right now with the ingredients you have. Check out the Vintage American Cocktail app.

Rusty Nail

0 from 0 votes Only logged in users can rate recipes
Course: DrinksCuisine: British






Total time



Learn how to make the a classic Rusty Nail.


  • 2/3 oz Drambuie

  • 2 oz Scotch


  • Add Ice To Mixing Glass. Combine all ingredients in the mixing glass.
  • Stir the ingredients for 20 – 30 seconds to properly chill and dilute the drink
  • Strain into glass with a large ice cube.



Make Cocktails Like A Pro

If you have ever struggled with a recipe or wonder why yours are not turning out like they do at the bar then check out my simple step-by-step videos. I will walk you through how to expertly build each drink so you get consistently great results.

  • Free and simple step by step videos.
  • Tips and tricks from years of experience.
  • Historically accurate and balanced recipes.