Behind the Drink: The Blood and Sand

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“Could you write about the history of the Blood and Sand?” asked my intrepid editor at Liquor.com. “Of course, sir. Leave it to me,” I replied.

To the best of my knowledge, the recipe for the drink first appeared in print in Harry Craddock’s 1930 The Savoy Cocktail Book.

That’s it. The end.

Unfortunately, that’s all we know about the origins of the Blood and Sand, a concoction that was introduced to me by Liquor.com advisor Dale DeGroff when he held forth from behind the bar at New York’s Rainbow Room, circa 1997. More on this in just a minute.

So if we don’t know its inventor and we’ve no idea about the establishment in which it originally reared its spicy little head (unless it was the Savoy), what else do we know about the tipple? Nothing, save the fact that, in all probability, it was named for a 1922 movie starring Rudolph Valentino, the silent-film star known as “The Latin Lover.”

Valentino’s performance in Blood and Sand—it centered on a bullfighter and was based on the novel by Vincente Blasco Ibáñez—was said to have been one of his finest, though the picture itself wasn’t exactly hailed as a masterpiece. “It is the story’s name and not the story or plot that made Blood and Sand the big hit,” wrote a reviewer at the time. Such is not the case with the cocktail, however.

When Dale told me about it, he said that the list of ingredients pretty much confounded him, so he just had to try one. I had to concur. Scotch, cherry brandy, sweet vermouth and orange juice don’t seem to belong in the same crib, let alone the same glass. The fact is that the Blood and Sand works very well, indeed. But this drink by any other name would taste as sweet. Sorry, Mr. Shakespeare.

Blood and Sand

Contributed by Gary Regan
INGREDIENTS:

  • .75 oz Scotch
  • .75 oz Sweet vermouth
  • .75 oz Cherry brandy
  • .75 oz Fresh orange juice

Glass: Cocktail

PREPARATION:
Add all the ingredients to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Gary Regan is the author of numerous books about spirits and cocktails, including The Joy of Mixology and The Bartender’s Gin Compendium. He is also co-host of ArdentSpirits.com and a Liquor.com advisor.

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