Flying Scotsman

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Cocktail History

The Flying Scotsman is a classic cocktail that was created by Harry Craddock in the 1930s and was first published in his book The Savoy Cocktail Book. The recipe was named for the record-setting train built in 1923 and, according to history books, was even served to the first-class passengers on its many voyages. Though largely a variation of the Rob Roy that is also made with Scotch, fortified wine, and aromatic bitters, it adds more sweet vermouth and mixes simple syrup into the drink to give it much sweeter and less aggressive flavor profile.

Cocktail Ingredients

To make this cocktail, you’ll need the following ingredients:

Scotch: This is a type of whiskey made in Scotland with malt or grain, spices, alcohol, and water. We used The Famous Grouse Blended Scotch Whisky because its smoky and sweet flavor works well in cocktails. For a mocktail version of this drink, try Escape Mocktails Green Label Single Malt Whiskey Non-Alcoholic Alternative in place of the whisky.

Sweet Vermouth: This is a fortified wine made with grapes, sugar, botanicals, herbs, sugar, and alcohol. We used Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth because it’s a high quality vermouth with dark notes of herbs, figs, licorice, cinnamon, and cocoa. For a mocktail version of this drink, try Lyre’s Non-Alcoholic Apéritif Rosso in place of the sweet vermouth.

Simple Syrup: This is a sweetener made with white sugar and water. We made ours at home using Alex’s stovetop recipe.

Aromatic Bitters: This is a food product made with botanicals, herbs, and alcohol. We used Angostura Aromatic Bitters. For a mocktail version of this drink, try All The Bitter Alcohol-Free Aromatic Bitters in place of the aromatic bitters.

Orange Zest: This is the peel of an orange that has been grated into the top of the glass.

Orange Twist: This is the peel of an orange that has been twisted into a corkscrew shape.

Bartending Tools

To make this cocktail, you’ll need the following bar tools:

Jigger: This is used to measure and pour ingredients. We used the Japanese jigger from the A Bar Above 14-Piece Silver Bar Set.

Mixing Glass: This is used to hold the ingredients while they’re being stirred. We used the Viski 17 oz Cocktail Mixing Glass.

Bar Spoon: This is used to stir ingredients. We used the Barfly Stainless Steel Teardrop Bar Spoon.

Julep Strainer: This is used to strain out ice and solid ingredients after the cocktail is stirred. We used the A Bar Above Julep Strainer.

Peeler: This is used to remove the garnish peel from the citrus. We used the OXO Good Grips 2-Piece Peeler Set.

Tasting Notes

The Flying Scotsman begins with strong, bright aromas of orange before leading into the prominent taste of vermouth’s vanilla sweetness accented with a bit of Scotch aftertaste, and it has a slight lingering allspice bite on the tongue after the swallow.

Our Opinion of This Cocktail Recipe: While the drink was quite good, neither of us found it to be a favorite in the end. Kendall thought the vermouth was too overpowering, and Alex generally thought the Flying Scotsman as a whole was a little too sweet for his liking. On the next go, he’d probably omit the simple syrup and substitute a bit of Islay Scotch to really give it some steam.

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Which of our palates is yours most like?
Find out if your palate is most similar to Alex’s or Kendall’s by answering five questions.

Take Our Quiz →

Alex’s Take: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
“This Rob Roy variation takes up the sweet vermouth and adds some additional sweetness via simple syrup. When making it, I actually pared down the simple syrup a bit since I didn’t want the recipe to be too sweet, and I still found it a little sweet. We also used The Famous Grouse, which I find to be a pretty sweet but well balanced Scotch, and I think using at least a half ounce (if not more) Islay Scotch would’ve turned this into a totally different drink. If I make this one again, that’s probably what I’ll do.”

Kendall’s Take: ⭐⭐
“We’ve tried several new Scotch recipes recently, all of which have been surprisingly palatable to me since I typically steer clear of that whisky. That said, this one didn’t do it for me. In my opinion, the vermouth overpowered the Scotch far too much, and that’s saying something because, again, I don’t even care for Scotch. I probably wouldn’t request this one again.”

Recipe

This cocktail recipe was adapted from The Savoy Cocktail Book by Harry Craddock.

The Savoy Cocktail Book
The Savoy Cocktail Book
Hardcover Book; Craddock, Harry (Author); English (Publication Language); 292 Pages – 07/03/2015 (Publication Date) – Martino Fine Books (Publisher)
$22.92

AuthorThe Savoy Cocktail Book

Yields1 ServingPrep Time5 mins

Ingredients
 2 oz Scotch
 1 ½ oz Sweet Vermouth
 2 dashes Aromatic Bitters
 Orange Zest
 1 Orange Twist

Method
1

Add Scotch, sweet vermouth, simple syrup, bitters, and cubed ice to a mixing glass.

2

Stir for 30-45 seconds.

3

Strain into a lowball glass over fresh cracked ice.

4

Express orange twist over top.

5

Garnish with orange twist.

Ingredients

Ingredients
 2 oz Scotch
 1 ½ oz Sweet Vermouth
 2 dashes Aromatic Bitters
 Orange Zest
 1 Orange Twist

Directions

Method
1

Add Scotch, sweet vermouth, simple syrup, bitters, and cubed ice to a mixing glass.

2

Stir for 30-45 seconds.

3

Strain into a lowball glass over fresh cracked ice.

4

Express orange twist over top.

5

Garnish with orange twist.

Flying Scotsman

Make It a Mocktail: Use Escape Mocktails Green Label Single Malt Whiskey Non-Alcoholic Alternative in place of the whisky, Lyre’s Non-Alcoholic Apéritif Rosso in place of the sweet vermouth, and All The Bitter Alcohol-Free Aromatic Bitters in place of the aromatic bitters to try a booze-free version of this drink.

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More Scotch Cocktails

If you like this Scotch-based cocktail recipe, here are a few others we’ve tried that you may enjoy:

Penicillin Cocktail Recipe

Penicillin: A Scotch cocktail made with lemon juice, honey syrup, ginger syrup, and candied ginger

Old Grampian Cocktail Recipe

Old Grampian: A Scotch cocktail made with honey syrup, Angostura aromatic bitters, orange bitters, and an orange twist

Flannel Shirt Cocktail Recipe

Flannel Shirt: A Scotch cocktail made with apple cider, Amaro Averna, lemon juice, simple syrup, allspice dram, Angostura aromatic bitters, and an orange peel

Saigon Lady Cocktail Recipe

Saigon Lady: A Scotch and brandy cocktail made with grenadine, lemon juice, egg white, and ground cinnamon

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