Tartan Cocktail Recipe

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Tartan Nutrition Facts





Alcohol by volume:30%

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 Tartan cocktail is a nod to Scotland's rich whisky heritage, combining the robust flavors of Highland Scotch with the sweetness of aromatized wine and herbal liqueurs. It's a drink that might be appreciated by those who enjoy a classic Rob Roy or a Manhattan but are looking for something with a bit more complexity and a herbal touch.

  • The name 'Tartan' itself is a direct reference to the traditional Scottish fabric, representing the blend of different flavors much like the interweaving of various colored threads.
  • This cocktail has been enjoyed by whisky enthusiasts who appreciate a drink that's both bold and balanced.
  • The use of Drambuie, a whisky-based liqueur, adds a layer of honeyed sweetness that complements the smoky notes of the Scotch.

How Tartan Tastes?

The Tartan cocktail offers a rich tapestry of flavors. It's a strong and warming drink, with the smoky peat of the Scotch and the herbal bitterness of the Ramazzotti creating a complex base. The sweetness of the Drambuie and the Cocchi Vermouth di Torino balance the bitterness, while the Angostura bitters add a spicy depth. The orange twist garnish provides a bright, citrus aroma that rounds out the experience.

Interesting facts about Tartan

  • The Edradour 10 year old Scotch used in the Tartan is one of the last single malt whiskies to be produced in a farm distillery.
  • Cocchi Vermouth di Torino, an ingredient in this cocktail, has been produced in the same recipe since 1891.
  • Drambuie, a key component of the Tartan, is made from a secret recipe that is said to date back to 1745.


  • Highland scotch: 1.5 oz(45ml)
  • Aromatized wine (cocchi vermouth di torino): 0.75 oz(23ml)
  • Drambuie: 0.25 oz(8ml)
  • Ramazzotti: 0.25 oz(8ml)
  • Angostura bitters: 2ds
  • Orange peel: 1twst

Highland Scotch

The smoky and peaty flavors of Highland Scotch are the backbone of this cocktail. It gives a robust taste that is balanced by the sweeter ingredients. If you skimp on this, you'd lose the essence of the 'Tartan'. Imagine wearing a kilt without the tartan pattern, quite plain, isn't it? If you don't have Highland, another Scotch could work, but it will change the flavor profile— it's like changing the clan of your kilt!

Mary Mitkina

Cocchi Vermouth di Torino

The Cocchi Vermouth di Torino brings a sweet, herbal complexity and depth to the mix. It's like the flattering pleats in a kilt - remove them and you lose a lot of character. Substitute with another sweet vermouth if needed; each one has its own botanicals which will make the drink taste like it's from a different region of Scotland.

Alex Green


Drambuie is our sweet, honeyed warrior in this battle of flavors. Taking it away would be like turning a bagpipe silent; the melody just wouldn't be complete. A substitute like another honey-based liqueur could do in a pinch, but the unique spiced nature of Drambuie is hard to replicate.

Emma Rose


Adding Ramazzotti is like throwing a log on the fire - it brings a warming, bitter edge to counterbalance the sweetness, akin to a spicy gingerbread Scot. Without it, the drink may become too sweet and one-dimensional. Substituting with another amaro will change the flavor, akin to changing the tune of the bagpipers.

Mary Mitkina

Angostura Bitters

Two dashes of Angostura Bitters are like the sporran of the cocktail - a small but essential accessory that adds spice and ties everything together. Without it, the drink may seem a bit disheveled, like a kilt without a sporran. Other bitters can be used, but the subtle flavor difference could make the Tartan less authentic.

Alex Green

Orange Peel

Finally, the orange peel. The zest is akin to a brooch pinning the whole ensemble together, releasing citrus oils that complement every other ingredient. Leave it out, and the cocktail loses a part of its charm, much like a kilt lacking its brooch.

Emma Rose

Recipe. How to make Tartan Drink

  1. In a mixing glass, combine 1 1/2 oz Highland Scotch, 3/4 oz Cocchi Vermouth di Torino, 1/4 oz Drambuie, 1/4 oz Ramazzotti, and 2 dashes of Angostura Bitters.
  2. Add ice and stir the mixture for 15-30 seconds until well-chilled.
  3. Strain the cocktail into a stemmed cocktail glass.
  4. Express the oils of an orange peel over the drink and garnish with the twist.

Pro Tips

  • For the best flavor, use freshly opened vermouth and store it in the refrigerator after opening to maintain its taste.
  • When expressing the orange peel, make sure to do it over the glass to capture the essential oils in the drink.
  • A slow and careful stir is key to achieving the perfect dilution and temperature for the Tartan.

Perfect Pairings

Cheese Pairings

  • Aged Cheddar: The nuttiness complements the herbal and whisky notes.
  • Blue Cheese: Its strong flavor pairs well with the sweetness of Drambuie.

Food Pairings

  • Grilled Lamb: The smoky flavor works well with the bold flavors of the Scotch.
  • Dark Chocolate Desserts: The bitterness of dark chocolate and the Vermouth sweetness is a match in heaven.

Drink Pairings

  • Espresso: The bitterness of the coffee can be a nice contrast to the sweetness and complexity of the cocktail.

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What you could change in Tartan

  • If Edradour 10 year is unavailable, any good quality Highland Scotch can be used as a substitute.
  • In place of Cocchi Vermouth di Torino, another sweet vermouth like Carpano Antica Formula can be used.
  • If Ramazzotti is not on hand, another amaro with a similar bitter profile, such as Averna, could be used.

Explore all drinks starting with T here

And of course - twists🍹

Smoky Tartan

  • Add a little Laphroaig: A splash of this intensely smoky Islay Scotch can turn up the peatiness for smoke lovers, invoking images of misty Scottish moors.
  • Replace Cocchi with a dry vermouth: This will create a drier and more botanical-forward profile, like stepping from the sweet highlands into a herb garden.
  • Use a lemon peel instead of orange: This citrus swap will add a sharper, brighter aroma, providing a counterpoint to the sweet and smoky notes.

Spiced Apple Tartan

  • Swap Drambuie for a Spiced Apple Liqueur: This evokes the feeling of a Scottish autumn, bringing orchard freshness and spiciness to the mix.
  • Top with a splash of apple cider: For a festive twist, the effervescence and tartness of cider can add a new dimension like bagpipes bellowing at a harvest festival.
  • Add a cinnamon stick garnish: Aromatic and warming, it's much like a cozy wool scarf on a brisk Highland morning.

Highland Herbal

  • Replace Ramazzotti with Green Chartreuse: This substitution infuses the cocktail with a more intense herbal kick, as if you've stumbled upon a secret Highland herbarium.
  • Add a sprig of fresh thyme or rosemary: Fresh herbs provide an aromatic earthiness that's grounding like the heather on Scottish hillsides.
  • Stir in a bar spoon of honey syrup: To ensure the drink doesn't become too bitter with the herbal additions, the honey acts like the sweet melody of Scottish folklore.

In case you forgot basics how to make Tartan

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 Tartan

What type of glass is best suited for serving the Tartan cocktail?

The Tartan cocktail is best served in a stemmed cocktail glass, such as a coupe or a martini glass, to maintain its temperature and enhance its sophisticated presentation.

Can I use a different type of whiskey in place of Highland Scotch?

While Highland Scotch is recommended for its specific flavor profile, other types of whiskey like Lowland Scotch or Speyside Scotch can be used for a slightly different taste experience.

Is it possible to make a non-alcoholic version of the Tartan cocktail?

A non-alcoholic version could focus on substituting the alcoholic components with non-alcoholic spirits that mimic the flavors of the originals, such as herbal or smoky flavored syrups and non-alcoholic aperitifs.

How significant is the stirring time for the cocktail's balance?

Stirring time affects the dilution and temperature of the cocktail, which is crucial to achieving the intended flavor balance and smoothness of the Tartan.

How can I tell if my vermouth has gone bad?

Vermouth can go bad over time, especially if not refrigerated after opening. Signs of spoilage include an off smell, discoloration, or an overly sharp and sour taste.

What are some common mistakes to avoid when making the Tartan cocktail?

Some common mistakes include over-stirring, leading to excess dilution; using stale vermouth or ingredients; and not properly expressing the orange peel to release its aromatic oils.

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