I know, I know. Even suggesting using a nice bottle of Scotch whisk(e)y in any type of cocktail, let alone a sweet summer cocktail, is sacrilegious. The Scotch purist may say that single malt whiskey is only to be consumed neat (straight up) at room temperature, or perhaps on the rocks, and when the situation (or rather whiskey) may call for it, a splash of water. But I say live and let live. Even the father of mixology himself, Jerry Thomas, had Scotch whiskey cocktails published in the first cocktail book in history, the Bar-Tender’s Guide (1862). 

Some of the reasons for the absence of Scotch in cocktails, such as it being good and complex enough on its own, are reason enough to make a cocktail out of it. The earthiness and smokiness of many Scotch whiskies makes it a challenge to create a balanced cocktail, yet those flavors, when balanced right with sweetness, makes for a complex drink that you won’t find with your everyday cocktail. To this day, a couple of my favorite cocktails are Scotch whiskey cocktails, the Blood and Sand and Penicillin. Find those, and other summer Scotch whiskey cocktail recipes below.

Blood and Sand

  • .75 oz. blended Scotch whiskeyBlood and sand Scotch whiskey cocktail
  • .75 oz. sweet vermouth
  • .75 oz. Cherry Heering
  • .75 oz. orange juice
  • Orange peel to garnish

This has long been one of my favorite Scotch cocktails, in part because it’s freakin’ delicious, but also because it’s so balanced, as it’s not as Scotch-forward as many other cocktails because of the use of blended Scotch whiskey (I use Famous Grouse). It’s believed to date back to the early 1900s, named after Rudolph Valentino’s bullfighter movie (1922) of the same name. Simply add all of the ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake. Strain into a chilled glass and serve up. How easy is that? The ingredient list may be a little confounding, but this is one delicious cocktail.

Penicillin

  • 2 oz. blended Scotch whiskeyPenicillin Whiskey Cocktail
  • 1.5 oz. Islay single malt Scotch whiskey (such as Laphroaig or in this case, McClelland’s Islay)
  • .75 oz. lemon juice
  • .75 oz. honey-ginger syrup
  • Candied ginger for garnish (optional)

You can view this as a whiskey-packed cocktail or a cure-all. I’ll let you be the judge. It doesn’t have the history of a lot of whiskey cocktails, since it was just invented a decade ago by renowned bartender Sam Ross (formerly of Milk & Honey), but it’s in my opinion the foremost Scotch whiskey cocktail. To make it, you’ll first need a honey-ginger syrup, which is simply one cup of honey, one cup of water, and a couple pieces of peeled and sliced ginger that is brought to a boil and simmered for a few minutes. Combine everything but the single malt whiskey in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake. Strain into a rocks glass with ice and top with single malt whiskey. I’ve seen some bartenders instead simply do a single malt whiskey rinse or spray so the single malt is less forward, but there’s still that aroma. If you like smoke, you’ll like this.

Scotch Whiskey Margarita

  • 1 oz. tequilaWhiskey Margarita
  • .5 oz. Drambuie
  • .75 oz. lime juice
  • Lime wedge for garnish

If you like honey-flavored whiskies then you’ll probably like Drambuie, which is something of Scotland’s take on a honey-infused whiskey, though they’ve been doing it a lot longer than American whiskey brands. Drambuie is a blended whiskey that’s billed more as a liqueur, featuring aged Scotch whiskey, heather honey, and other herbs and spices. In this margarita recipe it doesn’t replace the tequila, but rather the orange liqueur, giving more of a honey flavor to your everyday margarita. Sometimes I’ll even add a dash of agave or honey. Simply add all of the ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice and shake. Strain into a rocks glass filled with ice and garnish with a lime.

Morning Glory Fizz

  • 2 oz. blended Scotch whiskeyMorning Glory Fizz Scotch Whiskey Cocktail
  • .5 oz. lemon juice
  • .5 oz. lime juice
  • .5 oz. simple syrup
  • 1 egg white
  • 3-4 dashes absinthe
  • Soda

Long before Scotch whiskey had gone mainstream, it was being used in cocktails, such as this cocktail which has often been attributed to late-1800s bartender Harry Johnson. If the ingredients didn’t give it away, this is your classic hair-of-the-dog drink, though it’s also been suggested as an aperitif. Combine all the ingredients (except the soda) to a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a glass and top with a splash of soda. Garnish with an orange peel or wheel (Photo from PUNCH).

Smoky Haze On Summer Days

  • 2 oz. light, smoky Scotch whisky (Talisker is ideal)
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • 1.5 oz. rhubarb, ginger and honey Syrup
  • 1 handful summer berries (raspberries, strawberries, blackberries or a combination)
  • Ginger ale

This comes from one of my favorite bars, The Bon Vivant, in one of my favorite European cities, Edinburgh. How could we have a Scotch whiskey cocktail post and not talk about Scotland? This comes from owner Stuart McCluskey, having created what’s essentially a Scotch whiskey punch, which is how Scotch was often consumed decades ago. The syrup will need to be made beforehand, which consists of a couple rhubarb stalks chopped up, a couple fresh slices of ginger, and two ounces of honey. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer until rhubarb breaks down into pulp. Add all of the ingredients (except ginger ale) to a highball glass filled a third of the way with crushed ice and stir. Top with a splash of ginger ale. (Recipe originally appeared on Liquor.com.)

What’s your favorite Scotch drink?