Prince Charlie’s Coffee Recipe

The year was 1746 and a young man by the name of…wait for it…Charles Edward Louis John Casimir Sylvester Severino Maria Stuart was on the run.  We know him better as Bonnie Prince Charlie (and thank goodness because that was a mouthful).

Photo:  Public Domain

Following a crushing defeat at the Battle of Culloden – the short, bloody battle in which Prince Charlie led his Jacobite supporters in an attempt to restore his family (the Stuarts) to the English and Scottish thrones – Charlie found himself fleeing for his life from an aggressive pursuit by the king’s men.  With assistance from loyal Scottish clansmen along the way, Charlie’s escape took him through the Highlands and into the western islands of Scotland, finally landing him on the Isle of Skye in the Inner Hebrides.

It was on Skye that John MacKinnon, the chief of Clan MacKinnon, helped Prince Charlie escape Scotland for France.  As a token of his gratitude, the Prince gave John the secret recipe to his liqueur that had been created for him when he was at the French court.

Many generations later, in 1873, that secret recipe passed into the hands of John Ross of the Broadford Hotel on Skye and John’s son James went on to register “an dram buidheach” (in Gaelic, “the drink that satisfies”) as a trademark.  In 1914, Malcolm MacKinnon obtained the recipe and trademark and established what we know today as the Drambuie Liqueur Company.

Interestingly, the recipe continues to remain under wraps, known by only a few within the company.

A bottle of Drambuie on a blue floral tablecloth.

I remember the first time I tried Drambuie.  I was newly married to Mr. C, and it was one of his favorites; however, I didn’t like it at all!  How tastes can change.  My tastebuds now appreciate the delicious combination of both spicy and sweet that is born from the blend of aged Scotch whisky, heather honey, herbs, and spices.  It’s the perfect digestif.

Though Drambuie is excellent enjoyed alone or in a cocktail, today, we are going to add it to a fresh pot of hot coffee to make “Prince Charlie’s Coffee.”  If you give it a try, I hope you enjoy it every bit as much as we did.

Prince Charlie’s Coffee

(adapted from Scottish Heritage Food and Cooking by Carol Wilson and Christopher Trotter)               

Ingredients: (makes 1 serving)

1 oz. Drambuie

1 tsp. soft light brown sugar

hot black coffee

1/4 C heavy cream, lightly whipped


  1. Brew a pot of coffee.  A quality, smooth coffee is recommended, and it should be made pretty strong (though not so strong that it overpowers the liqueur).
  2. Lightly whip the cream.
  3. Pour the Drambuie into a glass.
  4. Add the sugar and stir thoroughly until completely dissolved.
  5. Pour the hot coffee into the glass, leaving about 3/4″ from the top.  Stir.
  6. Using a teaspoon with its tip just touching the coffee, pour the lightly whipped cream over the coffee until it reaches the top of the glass.  You want to “float” the cream and not stir it in.

And that’s it.  Simple and every bit as delicious as any coffee shop concoction I have ever had.

Three glasses of Prince Charlie's Coffee on a blue floral tablecloth.


Three glasses of Prince Charlie's Coffee being clinked together in a toast.

Have a great week, everyone!


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