Donald Sutherland Cocktail

Donald Sutherland Cocktail: The Canadian sophisticated sipper


Once and a while I like to share a quintessential gentleman’s cocktail, because who doesn’t like to feel worldly? So, today I am providing you with my favorite sipping cocktail, the Donald Sutherland cocktail. Otherwise known as a modified rusty nail cocktail.

For the uninitiated, this is the kind of cocktail that you may associate with older cosmopolitan men. The type that like to start their sentences with, “Back in my day…” For this reason this drink is not for the faint of heart! Yet perfect for our cold winter nights.

A classic rusty nail cocktail is a mix of Drambuie and Scotch with a twist of lemon. However, the Canadian version is called the the Donald Sutherland cocktail. What makes it Canadian? This version substitutes the scotch for Canadian rye-whiskey. Thus this is a great drink to introduce rye-whiskey to someone who doesn’t drink straight rye-whiskey cocktails often.

Photo by Festival TV Monte-Carlo

Why is it called the Donald Sutherland cocktail? One theory is that he is one of the most famous Canadian actors, and a true gentleman. Another theory is his enjoyment of rye-whiskey throughout his life. Regardless,  this drink is the embodiment of Donald Sutherland – a sophisticated sipping drink.

During my first time enjoying this drink I had no idea what Drambuie was, but man is it versatile. Drambuie is a Scottish honey liqueur. It is a herb-flavored liqueur made from aged malt whisky, heather honey, and a secret blend of herbs and spices. Guess what Drambuie is also awesome for? For my tea loving friends, Drambuie is great to mix with hot strong black tea as an alternative to an Irish coffee!

Let’s get local!

As always, I like to promote local companies producing amazing products. In addition, our local distillery scene is currently surging! So now is the time to enjoy local rye-whiskey for your Donald Sutherland cocktail. For example, here are a couple great local suggestions:



Located on Granville Island in the heart of Vancouver, this is a limited time whiskey. It is smooth with flavours of vanilla, caramel, and cacao bean. Which in my humble opinion is a nice compliment for the honey flavours of the Drambuie.


Shelter Point Artisanal Whisky

Vancouver Island residents, be warned it’s hard to find this whisky! If you do find it, I strongly recommend you pick up a bottle. This wonderful whisky has floral and slightly fruity flavors, which ultimately goes down very smoothly. The fruitiness mixes well with Drambuie as well.

A Canadian twist on a classic recipe

Donald Sutherland Cocktail

Prep Time: 1 minute

Cook Time: 2 minutes

Yield: 1 serving

  • 2 ounces Canadian rye-whisky
  • 1 ounce Drambuie
  • Lemon twist
Pour all liquid ingredients into an old-fashioned glass filled with ice. Stir gently. Then garnish with a lemon twist. Serve immediately.

Enjoy your Donald Sutherland cocktail responsibly, otherwise expect a “rusty” morning.

* As usual, always drink responsibly and be sure to arrange to get home safely.

About Geoffrey Bohaker

I've been a journalist on the West Coast for more than three years. One of my passions is meeting with local companies and sharing their stories with my readers. I'm happy to call the city of Vancouver, B.C. Canada as my home. This richly diverse city is abundant with culture, food and drinks, as well as decades of stories. Connect and share your story with me, I would love to hear from you!
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