SG + SHG Gift
Rusty Nail

We're back!  If you've made it here then you already know that what you're seeing is the new, faster, stronger, hotter, umami-er, relaunched Umamimart, and that the old UM has been forever cast off into Blogger oblivion (or Bolivian, as Mike Tyson would say).

To the loyal readers who patiently waited for our return to glory, I have nothing but the utmost gratitude.  For myself these last few weeks have been fairly sober ones since I didn't have any column to prepare, and therefore didn’t have any late Tuesday night experimental mixology sessions. In the end the hiatus wasn’t all that bad considering the month-long drunken haze that was my holiday season.

During our last encounter I shared with you The Detox cocktail. Hopefully you've had enough opportunity to detox since then, because it’s time to retox again baby!

To that end, I offer you the Rusty Nail, a magnificent little two-ingredient drink that’s perfect for an evening by the fireplace, and just a touch more difficult to make than your morning cereal.

Rusty Nail
2 oz. Scotch (use a good blended Scotch like Famous Grouse, Johnny Walker Black, or Pig’s Nose)
1/2 oz. Drambuie
Big hunk of ice

Tools: spoon for stirring
Glass: chilled Old Fashioned

Place ice, Scotch, and Drambuie in your glass. Give a brief stir and enjoy.

That’s really all there is to it when it comes to the Rusty Nail. If you're so inclined, you can add a twist of a lemon peel, which is not the traditional preparation but it works well. The drink's simplicity makes it perfect for lazy evenings when all you want is a quick nightcap without having to break out the tool box.

The Rusty Nail’s history is about as obscure as the drink itself has become.  According to cocktail historian David Wondrich, the drink went through multiple name and ingredient permutations in the early 20th Century before settling down two ingredients and the simple name, Rusty Nail.

Traditionally the type of Scotch used in this drink were of the blended variety, but that was mainly because single-- malts were much harder to come by than they are today. I still use a blended Scotch like the ones I recommended above, but nothing should stop you if you feel like indulging and using a single-malt if that’s what you desire.

And what about Drambuie? Ah yes, Drambuie. It’s the liqueur everyone’s heard of but hardly anyone’s tried or seems to know what it is. Drambuie is basically a Scotch-based, honey-flavored liqueur, with other layered background notes of saffron, anise, nutmeg, and herbs. In terms of flavor it’s slightly reminiscent of Benedictine—but only slightly.

Finally, I wanted to share a few final thoughts on ice and pre-chilling of glasses. When mixing drinks it’s almost a universal rule that you ought to chill your glasses in advance, in order to keep the drink as chilled as possible for as long as possible. The best way is to simply place them in the freezer for about 5-10 minutes, or you can just keep a few stored in the freezer so they’re ready at a moment’s notice, which is what I do. If your freezer’s real estate is limited, then the next best thing is to fill you glasses with ice and water when making the drinks, then pour out the ice and water when ready to pour in the cocktail.

When it comes to the ice you use, it may seem nitpicky to some, but paying a bit of attention to such small details can really elevate your drinking experience. For a drink like the Rusty Nail, I like to use the biggest piece of ice that’ll fit in my glass.  For that, I simply take a big tupperware and fill it with either cheap store-bought distilled water or home-filtered water (make sure you leave some room at the top since water expands as it freezes). Put the lid on the tupperware to protect the ice from absorbing the smell of your frozen fish, and pop it in the freezer. Then when you’re ready for use, just pop the ice out of the tupperware and break off whatever size chunk you want with an ice pick, clean screwdriver, or any sharp object you have around.

Now hurry up and get to it, it’s February already! Cheers.

P.S. I almost forgot, I have to christen the new Umamimart with three words that Kayoko, the Master of our Umamimart Universe, strictly forbade us to use: foodie, tasty, yummy.  Sorry K, I couldn’t resist. ;)

*Got a cocktail question? Hit me on twitter @paystyle, email me at payman(at)lifesacocktail(dot)com, or simply drop me a comment below.
Column: Happy Hour


  • Oh no I emoticon the heck out of you on IM, Sorry K! :(

    tomo on

  • See what I have to deal with, people? Leave it to Pay to double cross me. But I can’t kick him off cause his grammer is impeccable.


    Love ya Pay! I’ve been needing to replace my nightly Manhattan with a new cocktail and I think this is it! Can’t wait to try this “Drambuie”.

    PS: I forgot to tell ya’ll— I hate emoticons too!

    kayoko on

  • My favorite drink, try some lemon peel to balance out drambuie sweetness. Been looking for best single malt to match. After 50 malt attempts, current winners are Bowmore Engima (evening) and Glen Grant 10yr (afternoon). Any other suggestions out there?

    FoodnBooze on

  • you are forgiven.

    but seriously, how do I turn these yellow emoticon heads off in Wordpress? if they must be here, i prefer the straightforward colon/semicolon combination.

    whoever invented the emoticon concept can blow me.

    kayoko on

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