The Blood & Sand is a classic scotch-based cocktail that has withstood the test of time. The recipe first appeared in 1930 in “The Savoy Cocktail Book” by Harry Craddock and has become a mainstay on bar menus since. But did Craddock invent it, or only put it in his book? No one knows.
So if no one knows the drink’s inventor nor has any idea about the establishment in which it originally reared its spicy little head (unless it was the Savoy), what is known about the drink? Well, it gets its name from a 1922 bullfighter 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.
The drink was introduced to me by Dale DeGroff when he held forth from behind the bar at New York’s Rainbow Room, circa 1997. When DeGroff told me about it, he said that the list of ingredients pretty much confounded him, so he had to try one. I concurred. Scotch, cherry brandy, sweet vermouth and orange juice don’t seem to belong in the same crib, let alone the same glass. But this Blood and Sand works very well, indeed.
The key to the cocktail is to use a smooth scotch that’s not too smoky and freshly squeezed orange juice. So forget about your Islay scotches (for now), and avoid that carton of OJ in the fridge.
Click Play to See This Blood & Sand Recipe Come Together
- 3/4 ounce scotch
- 3/4 ounce sweet vermouth
- 3/4 ounce Heering cherry liqueur
- 3/4 ounce orange juice, freshly squeezed
- Garnish: orange peel
Add the scotch, sweet vermouth, cherry liqueur and orange juice into a shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled.
Strain into a chilled coupe or cocktail glass.
Garnish with an orange peel.