Cocktail of the Week: Compass Box’s Unholy Alliance Burns Night Cocktail

How to make a no-nonsense cocktail that brings whisky, vermouth and Campari into one glass — all to celebrate Robert Burns’ 262nd birthday

Ceilidhs might be off the cards this year, but we’ve found that a little Scottish appropriation always spruces up these long winter evenings. From Compass Box Whisky, this cocktail blends spirits from Scotland, Italy and France to create an unholy alliance — and a glorious tribute of a tipple that rightfully celebrates Bobby Burns’ 262nd birthday.

The cocktail is a variation on the Boulevardier, a bourbon-based Prohibition drink that first appeared in Harry McElhone’s 1927 Guide to Barflies and Cocktails. This timely twist, however, uses Scotch. And, according to Compass Box whiskymaker James Saxon, The Spice Tree blend is perfect for cocktails; benefitting from the richness of French Oak and boasting spice notes including clove and ginger.

“The key to the Unholy Alliance,” Saxon tells Gentleman’s Journal, “much like the Boulevardier and Negroni cocktails on which it is based, is impeccable dilution to showcase the textures of the ingredients. The Spice Tree is slightly higher in ABV than most whiskies that would be called for in a cocktail, so pay attention to how the cocktail comes together as you stir.”

And, if you find yourself locked-down in London this Burns Night, we’ve also found a whole host of restaurants who’ll deliver a Caledonian feast to your door. Gladwin Brothers have put together a delivery box with Trout Gravadlax, Haggis Wellington and a mini bottle of Bruichladdich Classic Laddie, while Scottish restaurant Mac & Wild are offering their own spin on a classic; with deliveries of Haggis Tacos. So embrace your inner Scot — and wash it down with the Unholy Alliance below. 

Compass Box’s Unholy Alliance Burn’s Night Cocktail (Serves 1)


  • 40ml Compass Box Spice Tree Whisky
  • 25ml Red Vermouth
  • 25ml Campari
  • Ice (the clearest, best quality ice possible; so it melts slower)
  • A twist of orange peel, to garnish


  1. Stir the ice around both the mixing glass and serving glass (a cobbler or sherry glass, ideally) first to chill them down.
  2. Combine the whisky, vermouth, Campari and ice. Stir briskly, but smoothly.
  3. Remove the ice from your serving glass and strain your cocktail into the glass.
  4. Garnish with orange zest and drink immediately.

Still sticking out Dry January? Here’s Silo’s Non-Alcoholic Pine Needle Cocktail…

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