Highlander Cocktail Recipe

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Highlander Nutrition Facts






Created by

Nic Polotnianko

I fell in love with the art of mixology 6 years ago. Since then, I've honed my skills, crafting a myriad of cocktail recipes, and sharing my passion with other enthusiasts.

Last Updated: January 16, 2024


The Highlander cocktail is a modern twist on classic Scottish and Mexican spirits, combining the smoky flavors of scotch and mezcal with the sweetness of simple syrup. It's a drink that pays homage to the rugged terrain of Scotland and the fiery heart of Mexico. Ideal for those who appreciate a cocktail with depth and character.

  • Origins: While the exact origin is not documented, it's a cocktail that has likely been crafted by experimental bartenders looking to blend the distinct profiles of scotch and mezcal.
  • Popularity: It has found a niche among connoisseurs who enjoy a smoky, complex drink.
  • Serving Occasions: Perfect for a chilly evening or as a conversation starter at a sophisticated gathering.

How Highlander Tastes?

The Highlander cocktail offers a robust and smoky flavor profile with an underlying sweetness. The scotch provides a warm, earthy base, while the mezcal introduces a subtle smokiness. The simple syrup balances the strength of the spirits, and the rosemary adds a hint of herbal freshness.

Interesting facts about Highlander

  • The use of dry ice in the Highlander cocktail not only chills the drink but also adds a dramatic, misty effect that enhances the presentation.
  • The combination of scotch and mezcal is relatively uncommon, making the Highlander a unique choice for adventurous drinkers.
  • Rosemary is not just a garnish; its infusion in the Creme De Cacao Cloud adds an aromatic layer to the cocktail.


  • Scotch: 1.5 oz(45ml)
  • Mezcal: 1 oz(30ml)
  • Simple syrup: 0.5 oz(15ml)
  • Fresh rosemary: 1sprig
  • Dry ice: 1cube
  • Cocoa nibs: 50g
  • Water: 0.75L


Scotch brings a depth with its smoky, sometimes peaty flavor. It's the Highlander's kilt - without it, it's just not the same! Too much, and you'd be drowning in the peat bogs.

Mary Mitkina


This is your surprise; a touch of smoke and earthiness. Mezcal turns the cocktail from a soothing lullaby into a highland fling! Skimp on this, and you'll miss the mysterious whisper of the agave.

Mary Mitkina

Simple Syrup

It's the diplomat here, balancing out the intense personalities of scotch and mezcal. Not enough, and it might get too heated; too much, and you've got a sugar-rush highlander.

Alex Green

Fresh Rosemary

The herb that sings of the highland heaths. It adds a botanical whisper to the storm of flavors. Without it, the drink loses its aromatic Highlander chant.

Mary Mitkina

Dry Ice

This is for the show! It doesn't add flavor, but it shrouds our Highlander in an enigmatic mist. Without it, you just lose some theatricality.

Mary Mitkina

Cocoa Nibs

These are the earth, the grounding force in our infusion. They lend a bitter, chocolatey backdrop which, without, would make our Highlander a little less grounded.

Alex Green


The canvas of our infusion, it carries the flavors of cocoa and rosemary. Skimp on this, and the infusion's too strong; overdo it, and it's weak tea at best.

Mary Mitkina

Recipe. How to make Highlander Drink

Creme De Cacao Cloud and Rosemary Infusion

  • 0.75 liters water
  • 50 g cocoa nibs
  • 5 sprigs fresh rosemary


  1. Combine scotch, mezcal, and simple syrup in a mixing glass.
  2. Fill the glass with ice and stir with a bar spoon.
  3. Strain into a bowl-shaped wine glass.
  4. Add a large square ice cube to the glass.
  5. Rub the glass's edge with rosemary, then add it as a garnish.
  6. Heat water, cocoa nibs, and rosemary for the infusion. Once hot, strain.
  7. Pour the infusion into a decanter and add dry ice to create a cloud.
  8. Pour only the cloud into the glass, not the liquid.

Pro Tips

  • When adding dry ice to the decanter, ensure the room is well-ventilated and handle the dry ice with tongs or gloves to avoid burns.
  • To enhance the rosemary's aroma, lightly clap the sprig between your hands before garnishing.
  • For a clearer Creme De Cacao Cloud, let the infusion settle for a few minutes after straining before adding the dry ice.

Perfect Pairings


  • Grilled meats: The smokiness of mezcal and scotch plays nicely with the char of grilled meat.
  • Dark Chocolate: The bitter and sweet tones from the cocoa nibs complement dark chocolate desserts.
  • Blue Cheese: The complex flavors of blue cheese can stand up to the intensity of the cocktail.


  • Oolong Tea: It's aromatic profile can be a non-alcoholic pairing that doesn't overpower the Highlander.
  • Espresso: The robust flavor of coffee would be a good match for the cocktail's boldness.

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What you could change in Highlander

  • Scotch: If you don't have a preferred brand, Glenfiddich or Johnnie Walker can provide the desired flavor profile.
  • Mezcal: Del Maguey Vida is a good substitute if you're looking for something readily available.
  • Simple Syrup: Agave syrup can be used as a substitute for a more pronounced sweetness.

Explore all drinks starting with H here

And of course - twists🍹

Islay Smokefest

  • Keep the scotch, but use an Islay one for extra smoke.
  • Replace mezcal with a smokier variety.
  • Add a touch of Lapsang Souchong tea to the infusion. It's like the Highlander has built a bonfire under the northern lights - it will singe your whiskers with smoky goodness.

Highland Orchard

  • Substitute mezcal with apple brandy.
  • Replace rosemary with thyme.
  • Infuse with a bit of cinnamon. This twist brings you to a Highland autumn, where the air is crisp and the leaves are turning. It's like sipping the Scottish countryside!

Mystic Sherry

  • Use sherry instead of scotch.
  • Add a small amount of orange zest to the infusion.
  • Garnish with a smoked orange wheel. This twist wanders into an ancient library with leather-bound books. It's more mellow, but with a complex sophistication.

In case you forgot basics how to make Highlander

The basic composition of simple syrup is relatively straightforward – a 1:1 ratio of sugar and water. This mixture is heated until the sugar dissolves, resulting in a clear, sweet syrup.

Learn everything about simple syrup

Place your chosen strainer on top of the shaker or mixing glass, ensuring a secure fit. Pour the cocktail into a glass through the strainer, which will catch solid ingredients and ice. If double straining, hold the fine mesh strainer between the shaker and the glass.

Learn everything on how to strain

Insert the spoon into the glass until it touches the bottom. Keep the back of the spoon against the inside wall of the glass, and stir in a smooth, circular motion. The goal is to swirl the ice and ingredients together without churning or splashing.

Learn everything on how to stir

Garnishing a bar drink depends on the type of garnish and the cocktail. Generally, it involves preparing the garnish (like cutting a citrus wheel or picking a sprig of mint), and then adding it to the drink in a visually appealing way (like perching it on the rim or floating it on top).

Learn everything on garnishing

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Frequently Asked Questions on Highlander

What type of glass is recommended for serving the Highlander cocktail?

The Highlander cocktail is best served in a bowl-shaped wine glass to enhance the presentation and allow the aroma of the rosemary and smoke to be appreciated.

Can I make the Highlander cocktail in large batches for a party?

Yes, you can batch the scotch, mezcal, and simple syrup in advance, but prepare the Creme De Cacao Cloud and rosemary infusion fresh to maintain the visual effect and flavor.

Is it safe to consume drinks with dry ice in them?

Yes, dry ice is safe for creating theatrical smoke effects in drinks, but ensure that the dry ice has fully sublimated (turned into gas) before consumption to avoid the risk of cold burns or ingestion.

How long should I stir the cocktail ingredients with ice?

Stir the cocktail with ice for about 30 seconds to properly dilute and chill the drink without over-diluting it.

What can I use if I don't have a decanter for the Creme De Cacao Cloud?

If you don't have a decanter, any heat-proof glass container will work, as long as it can safely contain the hot liquid and allow the dry ice cloud to form.

What is the significance of using a sprig of rosemary in the Highlander cocktail?

Rosemary adds an herbal freshness and ties together the earthy, smoky notes of the cocktail with its fragrant aroma, enhancing the overall sensory experience.

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