Red Tartan Cocktail Recipe

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Red Tartan 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 Red Tartan is a cocktail that pays homage to the Scottish heritage, combining the robust flavors of Scotch whisky with the sweetness of Cherry Heering and citrus notes. It's a modern classic that appeals to those who appreciate a well-balanced drink with depth.

  • Originates from the creative minds looking to blend traditional Scotch with more accessible flavors.
  • Named after the iconic Scottish pattern, symbolizing the blend of tradition and modernity.
  • Ideal for whisky enthusiasts looking to explore beyond neat pours and classic cocktails like the Old Fashioned.

How Red Tartan Tastes?

The Red Tartan is a symphony of flavors, with the smoky undertones of Scotch whisky perfectly complemented by the sweet cherry and citrus zest. It's a harmonious blend that's both bold and refreshing, with a subtle hint of spice from the Angostura bitters and a gentle effervescence from the soda.

Interesting facts about Red Tartan

  • The Red Tartan cocktail can be considered a bridge between classic Scotch cocktails and more modern, fruity concoctions.
  • Cherry Heering, a key ingredient, is a Danish cherry liqueur that has been produced since 1818.
  • The cocktail's garnish, a dehydrated orange wheel, adds not only visual appeal but also a concentrated burst of citrus aroma.


  • Blended scotch whisky: 1.5 oz(45ml)
  • Orange juice: 1 oz(30ml)
  • Cherry heering liqueur: 0.5 oz(15ml)
  • Sweet vermouth: 0.5 oz(15ml)
  • Lime juice: 0.25 oz(8ml)
  • Simple syrup: 0.25 oz(8ml)
  • Angostura bitters: 2 dashes
  • Sanpellegrino aranciata rossa soda: to top
  • Dehydrated orange wheel: 1
  • Grated nutmeg: to garnish

Blended Scotch whisky

  • Why: It's the robust backbone of the cocktail, offering depth and a touch of smoke.
  • What if you don’t: Without it, you'd lose the cocktail's heart and complexity.
  • Alternatives: You could try a rye whiskey for a spicier kick, but it would alter the classic profile.

Alex Green

Orange juice

  • Why: Brightens the drink with fresh citrus notes, playing nicely with the Scotch.
  • What if you don’t: Omitting it would make the drink less vibrant and more intense.
  • Alternatives: Grapefruit juice could work, adding a bit more bitterness.

Emma Rose

Cherry Heering liqueur

  • Why: This brings a fruity sweetness and a rich cherry flavor that's crucial for balance.
  • What if you don’t: The cocktail would lose a layer of depth and sweetness.
  • Alternatives: A dash of maraschino liqueur could substitute, with a slightly more floral note.

Mary Mitkina

Sweet vermouth

  • Why: Adds herbal complexity and sweetness, marrying well with the Scotch.
  • What if you don’t: The drink's herbal notes would be muted, and it would be less rounded.
  • Alternatives: Try a dry vermouth for a less sweet and more astringent cocktail.

Alex Green

Lime juice

  • Why: Just enough zing to cut through the sweetness and refresh the palate.
  • What if you don’t: It would be overly sweet and lack contrast.
  • Alternatives: Lemon juice could be a substitute, offering a different type of citrus brightness.

Emma Rose

Simple syrup

  • Why: It's the sweetener that helps bring all the ingredients together harmoniously.
  • What if you don’t: The drink could become too tart without this balancing act.
  • Alternatives: Honey syrup could add an earthier sweetness.

Mary Mitkina

Angostura bitters

  • Why: A few dashes provide a complex blend of spices and season the drink like a pinch of salt would in a recipe.
  • What if you don’t: You would miss the subtle spiced undertones that give this cocktail character.
  • Alternatives: Other aromatic bitters could be used, offering slightly different spice profiles.

Alex Green

Sanpellegrino Aranciata Rossa soda

  • Why: Gives a refreshing fizz and a touch of bitterness to top off the drink.
  • What if you don’t: The cocktail would be flat and less refreshing.
  • Alternatives: Regular soda water could be used for fizz without the added citrus flavor but would result in a less complex cocktail.

Emma Rose

Dehydrated orange wheel

  • Why: Provides an aromatic garnish that looks great and subtly contributes to the nose of the drink.
  • What if you don’t: The drink would still be delicious but less visually appealing.

Mary Mitkina

Grated nutmeg

  • Why: Just a hint adds a warm, nutty aroma that complements the spices from the bitters and the fruitiness of the liqueurs.
  • What if you don’t: You would lose an extra layer of aromatic complexity that makes the cocktail special.

Alex Green

Recipe. How to make Red Tartan Drink

  1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice.
  2. Pour in the Scotch whisky, orange juice, Cherry Heering liqueur, sweet vermouth, lime juice, simple syrup, and Angostura bitters.
  3. Shake well until the mixture is chilled.
  4. Strain into a highball or Collins glass filled with fresh ice cubes.
  5. Top with Sanpellegrino Aranciata Rossa soda.
  6. Garnish with a dehydrated orange wheel and a light dusting of grated nutmeg.

Pro Tips

  • Chill the Glass: Before preparing the cocktail, chill the glass to keep the drink colder for longer.
  • Fresh Citrus: Always use fresh-squeezed orange and lime juices for the best flavor.
  • Garnish: Take the time to dehydrate your own orange wheels for garnish; the extra effort adds a personal touch and enhances the aroma.

Perfect Pairings


  • Smoked Salmon Canapés: The smokiness of the salmon pairs well with the peaty notes of the Scotch whisky.
  • Pulled Pork Sliders: The sweetness from the Cherry Heering and the citrus from the orange juice complement the savory notes of the pork.


  • Aged Cheddar: The sharpness of the cheddar pairs beautifully with the complex flavors of the cocktail.
  • Blue Cheese: Its bold flavor stands up alongside the intensity of the Red Tartan.


  • Dark Chocolate Mousse: Chocolate and cherry are a classic pairing, and the bitterness of dark chocolate balances the cocktail's sweetness.
  • Citrus Tart: The tartness of the citrus dessert matches the zing from the lime juice in the cocktail.

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What you could change in Red Tartan

  • Scotch Whisky: If Dewar's White Label is not available, any quality blended Scotch will do, such as Johnnie Walker Black Label or Chivas Regal.
  • Cherry Heering: In a pinch, you could substitute with another cherry liqueur or even a cherry brandy, though the flavor profile will slightly change.
  • Sanpellegrino Aranciata Rossa: A different brand of blood orange soda can be used, but the unique flavor of Sanpellegrino is recommended for authenticity.

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And of course - twists🍹

Smoky Red Tartan

  • Replace the blended Scotch with a peated single malt to add an intense smoky flavor. Top with a spritz of Islay Scotch instead of Sanpellegrino to emphasize the smoke.

Red Tartan Sour

  • Omit the soda and increase the lime juice to 0.5oz to turn it into a sour cocktail. Add an egg white and dry shake before adding ice to create a smooth, frothy texture.

Spiced Red Tartan

  • Switch out the simple syrup for a cinnamon-based syrup and the Angostura bitters for a spiced bitters like Peychaud's. Garnish with a cinnamon stick to bring out warm, winter spice notes.

In case you forgot basics how to make Red Tartan

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

Add your ingredients to the shaker first, then ice. Fill it up to ¾ of its capacity to ensure enough space for shaking. Hold the shaker with both hands (one on the top and one on the bottom) and shake vigorously. The shake should come from your shoulders, not your wrists.

Learn everything on how to shake

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

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 Red Tartan

Can I use a different type of whisky other than Scotch for the Red Tartan?

While the Red Tartan is designed with Scotch whisky to give it a distinct flavor, you can experiment with other types of whisky. However, this will change the character of the cocktail.

What is Cherry Heering and is there a non-alcoholic substitute?

Cherry Heering is a Danish cherry liqueur that's sweet and full-bodied. For a non-alcoholic substitute, you could use a cherry syrup or juice, but this will affect the final alcohol content and flavor complexity.

How can I properly dehydrate an orange wheel for garnishing?

To dehydrate an orange wheel, slice the orange thinly and place the slices in a dehydrator or an oven at a low temperature for several hours until completely dry.

Is the Red Tartan suitable for a large party?

Yes, you can scale up the recipe for the Red Tartan to serve at large parties. Prep the ingredients in advance and mix in larger batches.

How do I choose the best Scotch whisky for the Red Tartan?

Look for a blended Scotch whisky with smoky and peaty notes to complement the sweet and citrus flavors in the cocktail.

What's the significance of using Angostura bitters in cocktails?

Angostura bitters are a key ingredient in many cocktails, providing a herbal, spicy note that balances sweet and citrus elements.

Can I make my own simple syrup for the Red Tartan cocktail?

Absolutely! Simple syrup is easy to make at home by dissolving equal parts sugar and water in a saucepan and allowing it to cool before using.

Is the Red Tartan a seasonal drink?

While the Red Tartan's warm flavor profile makes it excellent for cooler seasons, its refreshing citrus notes also allow for enjoyment year-round.

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