Just a few months ago Australia saw the official relaunch of a brand that has been inseparable from one of the most famous cocktails of all time. The whisky is Drambuie, the cocktail is The Rusty Nail – two names which when paired should conjure up scenes of a bygone era, of infamous New York nightclubs of the early 60s like the 21 Club which was frequented by icons like Hemmingway and Frank Sinatra before it became the birthplace of said cocktail.
With an indelible position in popular culture, Drambuie has picked an appropriate time to resurface, especially seeing as The Rusty Nail (one part Drambuie, two parts Scotch Whisky and a lemon twist over ice) became the drink of choice for two-bit lawyer Saul Goodman in AMC series Better Call Saul. The on-screen presence of such a simply beautiful cocktail is a nice little springboard for the unique liqueuer.
The liqueur itself is kept a mystery as far as the exact recipe goes but we know it’s a blend of aged Scotch whisky, heather honey, and a selection of spices and herbs that give the flavour profile some real depth, adding well to simple cocktails that can use the boost this provides. That recipe – whatever it is – has been kept consistent so if you’re already familiar with the complex profile you won’t find any disappointment here; herbal, spicy, sweet, and honey notes dance on the palate in concert.
The candied honey can be a bit too dominate on the palate, which is why lovers of all things sweet have warmed to Drambuie more than others, and the herbal bitterness on the finish is too disguised by the sweeter notes. This is why drinking Drambuie neat is not really the best idea; using it in cocktails on the other hand: necessary. Sparkling wine surprisingly plays well with the liquid, which is why a Bonnie Prince Charlie always goes down well, but of course it’s the Rusty Nail that’s the perfect serve.
Sydney bar The Swinging Cat was one of the big channels through which William Grant & Sons reluanched Drambuie in Australia, resulting in a weekly homage to the Rusty Nail, but for those who aren’t able to head along you can try your hand at making the very straight-forward cocktail at home:
- 1 part Drambuie
- 2 parts Monkey Shoulder Scotch Whisky
1. Build over ice in a rocks glass and stir
2. Garnish with a lemon twist.