The Bobby Burns Cocktail: Highland scotch, sweet vermouth, Benedictine

The Bobby Burns: a variation on the Rusty Nail and the Manhattan
The Bobby Burns Cocktail: scotch, Benedictine, sweet vermouth

If you like scotch or Rusty Nails or Manhattans or Vieux Carres, you have to try the Bobby Burns cocktail. After all, it combines just three wonderful ingredients: scotch, sweet vermouth, and Benedictine.

The Bobby Burns cocktail is named to recognize and remember Robert Burns, a late 18th-Century poet probably most well known for his New Year’s anthem “Auld Lang Syne,” that song that no one really remembers the words of. Robert Burns is adored in Scotland, and I mean they almost worship this guy. He wrote a lot of poetry, much of it somewhat bawdy, and all of it fit to be set to music. And most of it has. It’s no coincidence that the drink named after him is made with Scotch. As Bobby Burns himself wrote about the excise tax on whiskey,

Scotland, my auld, respected mither!
Tho’ whiles ye moistify your leather,
Till, whare ye sit on craps o’ heather,
Ye tine your dam;
Freedom an’ whisky gang thegither!
Take aff your dram!

I enjoy a good Scotch, but it isn’t the kind of drink I can drink quickly or drink more than one or two of. I keep a good single malt in my cabinet, both a Highland, an Islay, and a blended (usually Monkey Shoulder!). For this one, I used both the Monkey Shoulder and the Glen Moray Highland malt, and both of them were excellent.

The Bobby Burns Cocktail Recipe

To make the Bobby Burns cocktail, stir together these ingredients with ice:

  • 2 oz. Scotch
  • 0.75 oz. Italian sweet vermouth (Martini and Rossi)
  • 0.5 oz. Benedictine
The Bobby Burns uses more Benedictine than the Vieux Carre
Benedictine: an unusual animal, the nutty liqueur is most common in the Vieux Carre.

Then strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Now if you’re not familiar with Benedictine, it’s a liqueur first made by monks in 1510. It’s sweet with a strong hint of cloves, and it reminds me of Drambuie, so I thought this would taste like a Rusty Nail, a drink I will describe in a later blog, I hope.

But the Bobby Burns is quite different. It’s just as sweet, what from the sweet vermouth and Benedictine liqueur, but it seems more balanced. It’s spicier, and the sweetness doesn’t overpower the scotch flavors.


Overall, the Bobby Burns is a quality cocktail, and it’s an easy one to make at home. If you keep a bottle of Benedictine around to make Vieux Carres, it probably lasts you a few years. Now you have another reason to use it.

Make the Bobby Burns when someone comes over who likes classic cocktails like Manhattans or something like that. The Bobby Burns will do them well.

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