I have known about this drink for years, but it was only when I came to write it up here that I realised that the Long Vodka is almost unknown outside of Scotland. The Long Vodka is a favourite of my sister, Heather. She would order it for pre-dinner drinks at my parents’ house in Aberdeenshire, whereupon my father would roll his eyes because it was more of a faff to prepare than the gin and tonics everyone else tended to ask for.
“Oh, really Heather?”
Finding a recipe was not completely straightforward. Wikipedia indicates that the drink calls for lime cordial and lemonade. Variations from around the Internet include fresh lime juice, tonic water, soda water, and every combination thereof. In the end, I just texted Heather, got her version of it, realised it matched Wikipedia, and went with that – an authentic Scottish Long Vodka as mixed in Aberdeenshire by my own family.
However, in June 2019, a little over a year after we first posted this recipe, a remarkable thing happened. We were contacted by a lady called Jacky Bevan (née Hunt) who appears to be the inventor of the Long Vodka. You can see Jacky’s comment below; but for the record, in 1978 Miss Hunt was working in a bar in Lancashire when she accidentally made a customer’s gin and lime with vodka. The bar owner suggested she just drink it; but when she did so, it was pretty bad. To knock back the acidity, Jacky added lemonade to it, thereby creating the prototype Long Vodka. At that point, the drink did not have a name.
In March of 1981, Jacky visited a small Scottish village called Inverkeilor between Arbroath and Montrose to see some family. She went to the local pub, which was known as The Plough (now closed). The landlord of The Plough was intrigued by the drink Jacky ordered, so he put it on his bar menu. Jacky also seeded the drink further north in Montrose and Aberdeen. At this time, the drink was known as nothing other than:
“Vodka, lime and lemonade in a tall glass.”
Jacky does not know when the drink gained its name or the bitters, but she is of the opinion that bitters are the work of the devil. Surprised that her drink had been written down, Jacky said to us:
“I thought I was the only one drinking this concoction.”
- 75ml Russian Standard Vodka
- 20ml lime cordial
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
Fill a highball glass with ice, add the bitters, swirl and pour the bitters away, retaining the ice.
Add the vodka and lime, top with lemonade and stir gently to ensure the lime is mixed through (it tends to sink) without degassing the fizz.
Serve with a slice of lime.
Sinead Keogh10/03/2019 at 3:03 pm
Love that cocktail…but yes, outside of Scotland? Don’t think anyone has heard of it. I prefer 7up to lemonade though…
Nigel Eastmond11/03/2019 at 8:07 am
It is such a ‘ghetto’-style cocktail, I imagine you can add anything lemony to it and get a good result.
Jacky Bevan07/06/2019 at 2:37 pm
Nigel don’t know how old Heather is but here’s the origin of your Scottish long vodka. In 1978 I was working in a Pub in Lancashire England I mistakenly made a customer a vodka and lime instead of a gin and lime, the landlord said I might as well have the drink as no one else wanted it. It tasted disgusting so I added lemonade hence the birth of the long vodka. In March of 1981 I visited a small Scottish village called Inverkeillor to see family and went in the local pub ‘The Plough’ sadly no longer a pub, were the landlord was intrigued by my choice of drink an added it to his cocktail menu, at the time it didn’t have a name nor did it contain angostura bitters. I also requested this drink combination in pubs in Montrose and Aberdeen, so there you are, a history lesson on how things get started, by accident. Lol
Nigel Eastmond07/06/2019 at 2:43 pm
Oh, good grief. Can we add that to the main article? How did you find our post?
Nigel Eastmond04/07/2020 at 10:25 am
Jacky … we are on Wikipedia! (I did not write this) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_vodka
Jacky Bevan08/06/2019 at 1:22 am
Of course you may add it to your article, I drank this mix until the early noughties when I gave up drinking due to health reasons. I found your post whilst browsing for cocktail names after reading a book that referred to a vdka sour and wondered if my mix had a name, again just chance
Cherin30/11/2019 at 9:25 pm
I happily stumbled upon your recipe when trying to figure out what to do with 8 lemons minus their peels. I was making limoncello for Christmas gifts. After spotting your recipe I saved some of the vodka for the long vodka cocktail. I am so glad I did. After all, the chef needs to try the goods especially after working hard this afternoon. BTW check out my website herbandgarlicpro.com for my recipes. They are awesome with a long vodka to cleanse the pallet.
Nigel Eastmond01/12/2019 at 12:31 pm
Ah. You must have made it with traditional, home-made lemonade then. Did you gas it?
I am interested on how you stumbled across this recipe. What on earth did you Google to fine our little cooking blog?
Enjoy the cocktail, Nige.
Carole, Edinburgh20/04/2020 at 2:29 pm
Clearing out a cupboard during lockdown (week 4!!!) and found a bottle of angostura bitters. I remembered a drink I used to order in pubs (probably in 80’s) with this and vodka – but couldn’t remember what else was in it. Found your article and very amused by the background- which I had no idea about!! Might be giving this a try …… if I can get lime juice during lockdown!
J08/05/2020 at 4:25 pm
That is hilarious. I have spent years in London, Asia, the States and even edinburgh asking for this drink which was my goto drink in Aberdeen c 1989 when everyone else was on southern comfort and lemonade. No barman had ever heard of it. I began to think i was imaging it. I’m not sure about the lime cordial though. I always make it for myself with vodka, bitters and 7-up. A slice of lime was added but i always thought that was to use them up when people didn’t buy enough bottles of Sol. Really pleased to have read your piece.
Nigel Eastmond08/05/2020 at 6:28 pm
Glad you found the article. We have had more comments on this than just about anything else.
Glen15/05/2020 at 9:23 pm
Cannae beat a long vodka
Jacky Bevan21/05/2020 at 9:52 pm
Thought I’d revisit your site, I am amazed how many people are interested in the origins of the long Vodka, having said that, this lock down is enough to drive anyone to drink (end of week 8), hope everyone is safe and well
Nigel Eastmond22/05/2020 at 9:15 am
Amazing, isn’t it, Jacky? I get more comments about your invention than anything else.
Lauren28/05/2020 at 4:32 pm
A friend I met at Aberdeen College in 2005/2006 introduced me to the long vodka. I haven’t had one in many years (sickened myself!) but recently got some bitters and wanted to try it again. Very interesting to find out it’s origins, I had no idea it was local to Aberdeen. Long live the long vodka
Camila Grace27/06/2020 at 6:32 pm
This sounds like just the thing to make when I am having the girls over. Love the idea of and lemon flavor. Sounds so refreshing! Thanks for sharing this unique recipe. Regards and much love. Happy Blogging!
Kareena McCabe04/07/2020 at 9:52 am
I grew up in Glasgow, and my drink of choice was always a long vodka. Moved to Australia in 2009, and obviously couldn’t get one. At the time I never thought more of it; there are a lot of Scottish thing you can’t get in Australia. Thinking about it the other day, so had a ‘Google’ and this came up!! Quick trip to the shops, and I’ll be enjoying a long vodka tonight!!! Thanks!
mahabet.co19/08/2020 at 12:00 pm
Useful info. Fortunate me I discovered your web site unintentionally, and I am shocked why
this coincidence didn’t happened earlier! I bookmarked it.
Jack Bevan02/10/2020 at 11:26 pm
Just spotted your post about Wikipedia, can’t stop laughing, never thought I would become infamous. By the way my maiden name at the time of working as a bar maid was Hunt, I was working at The Park Inn, Shaw, at the time, some 40 years ago. By the way I didn’t put it on Wikipedia either, I wonder who did?
Nigel Eastmond03/10/2020 at 9:10 am
Thanks Jacky. I have updated the page here. I guess the mysterious Wikipedia author may update in time. Congratulations on your fame.
Jacky Bevan03/10/2020 at 11:45 am
Lol Thanks Nigel, best wishes hope everyone is well and safe
Lindsay Robertson04/11/2020 at 7:06 pm
I moved to London 12 years ago and found out the hard way that the Long Vodka is only a thing in Scotland – there were a lot of confused faces behind the bar whenever I tried to order it! I spent about five years as a bartender in Glasgow and Lanarkshire around the mid-2000s, and it was really popular back then. I’ll never forget when my sister started a bar job and I asked her if she knew how to make a Long Vodka – she confirmed the recipe was “vodka, lime juice, lemonade and Angus Deayton bitters”. Anyway, thanks for the article, and seeing the inventor of the drink appear in the comments and the subsequent Wikipedia update was a lovely surprise!
Nigel Eastmond04/11/2020 at 7:08 pm
It is an amazing tale, and the only Nosey Chef success story to date. 🙂
Clare Mason03/12/2020 at 12:20 pm
I can’t believe I found this recipe. I lived in Paisley for a few years and loved this drink but here in Ireland no one had head of it .Just had a notion to Google it and came across your post! Brilliant
Catherine Phillips28/07/2021 at 5:24 pm
I came across this article…no idea how. My daughter emigrated from Glasgow to Melbourne in 2006, when I visited the first time in Jan 2009 she urged me to try a Lemon & Lime Vodka…even though my normal tipple is a lovely Gin & Tonic. What was served to me in the bar/restaurant was exactly what I have read here, a Long Vodka.
Bitters rinsed round the glass, large vodka, lime cordial, topped up with lemonade, delicious. That’s what I still have when visiting there,
Stef Lach18/12/2021 at 3:36 am
People outside the UK are confused by “lemonade” being in the recipe. In North America, lemonade is a non-fizzy drink, often homemade. In the UK, lemonade refers to Sprite and 7UP etc. a long vodka needs Sprite/7UP….definitely not the US-style lemonade.
Nigel Eastmond18/12/2021 at 4:40 pm
Hi Stef, you are nearly right on that. Lemonade here is fizzy, but it is not Sprite/7-Up as those are lemon-lime drinks. Lemonade is universally cheap and made of lemons, sugar and carbon dioxide. Most supermarkets have their own brand, but if you are feeling flush, the Schweppes is your guy.
Claire H03/01/2022 at 8:28 am
So funny – my friend and I grew up in Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire in the 80s/90s and this was our drink!
Leanne Dawson17/03/2023 at 11:47 pm
I moved to the states as an early teen in 90’s. All my family remained in Aberdeen, so as I got older and would visit this was the go to drink. You almost cannot make it here in the states, as “lemonade” here is not fizzy. You can try with sprite or 7up but both of those are lemon lime and not quite the same. So whenever I go home, I enjoy a proper long vodka