Flying Scotsman

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Cocktail History

The Flying Scotsman is a classic Scotch cocktail that was first published in The Savoy Cocktail Book by Harry Craddock in the 1930s. 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, the addition of more sweet vermouth and simple syrup gives the drink a much sweeter and less aggressive flavor profile.

Cocktail Ingredients

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

Scotch: This is the base spirit. We chose to use The Famous Grouse because it’s a great mixing Scotch with a bit of smoky flavor but still plenty of sweetness.

Sweet Vermouth: This is a fortified wine that adds sweetness. We used Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth because it’s Alex’s favorite sweet vermouth, with dark notes of herbs, figs, licorice, cinnamon, and cocoa.

Simple Syrup: This is a sweetener made with sugar and water. You can buy bottled simple syrup in a store, but we made ours at home using Alex’s recipe because it tastes better fresh and is very easy to make.

Angostura Aromatic Bitters: This is a type of spirit infused with botanicals. They add more spice and complexity to the drink and tie the other flavors together.

Orange Zest: This is zested on top to add fresh citrus aroma and flavor.

Orange Twist: This is the garnish. It adds more fresh citrus aroma and flavor.

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 drink as a whole was a little too sweet for his liking. On the next go, we’d probably omit the simple syrup and substitute a bit of Islay Scotch to really give it some steam.

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 by a bit since I didn’t want the recipe to be too sweet, and I still found it a little sweet. We also used 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 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.

AuthorThe Savoy Cocktail BookPrep Time5 minsRating

Ingredients
 2 oz Scotch
 1 ½ oz Sweet Vermouth
 ¼ oz Homemade Simple Syrup
 2 dashes Angostura Aromatic Bitters
 Orange Zest
 1 Orange Twist

Method
1

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

2

Stir for 30-45 seconds.

3

Strain into a lowball glass over fresh ice.

4

Express orange twist over top.

5

Garnish with orange twist.

Ingredients

Ingredients
 2 oz Scotch
 1 ½ oz Sweet Vermouth
 ¼ oz Homemade Simple Syrup
 2 dashes Angostura Aromatic Bitters
 Orange Zest
 1 Orange Twist

Directions

Method
1

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

2

Stir for 30-45 seconds.

3

Strain into a lowball glass over fresh ice.

4

Express orange twist over top.

5

Garnish with orange twist.

Flying Scotsman

Tools & Glassware We Recommend

More Scotch Cocktails

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

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

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

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

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