A Cocktail By Any Other Name

March 4, 2021

If you have just the right name for a cocktail, it can tell you all you need to know about what’s in the drink. The Moscow Mule, Sazarac, Bloody Mary, and of course the Old-Fashioned. These iconic names instantly bring imagery to your mind about what you can expect out of the drink.

And then, there is my favorite. The Rusty nail. Possibly one of the worst names ever for a cocktail. But I’m going to convince you why this could become one of your favorite mixed drinks.

It all started back in 1937 as a drink created for the British Industries Fair held in New York. Back then it was made with Drambuie, scotch whiskey, and bitters. They called it the BIF which is about as exciting a name as you can expect for a drink created at a tradeshow. The cocktail disappeared for a while but then mysteriously popped up in the 1950s in the USA during the postwar boom.

For decades following it was one of the hottest cocktails going, favored exclusively by the famed Rat Pack. In New York, it was called the Little Club No. 1. Here in the midwest, it was referred to as a Knucklehead. But all the naming nonsense was put to rest in 1967 when Drambuie chairwoman Gina MacKinnon declared the popular cocktail would be forever called the Rusty Nail. Probably because when you mix Drambuie and young Scotch it creates a very “rusty” color. It’s actually more golden, so why not “Old Gold” or “Sunny Scotch”? Ok, not great, but better than Rusty Nail.

Anyway, don’t let the name turn you off from what really is an incredibly unique drink. Simply mix one part Drambuie with one part of your favorite Scotch over ice and enjoy. It’s especially tasty after dinner.