Named for a Valentino movie
Ready for a scotch-based drink inspired by a bullfighting flick? Of course you are!
In 1922, Rudolph Valentino was at the height of his fame. Cinemas everywhere were showing his latest work, Blood and Sand. It was thrilling stuff.
And this namesake drink does the film justice. A mix of scotch, Cherry Heering, sweet vermouth, and orange juice, the Blood and Sand Cocktail smolders with dangerous allure. Just like Valentino himself, you might say.
Still not enough to persuade you? Well, there’s also a tequila version of this cocktail, which is perfect for Cinco de Mayo (more about that in the Notes).
Recipe: The Blood and Sand Cocktail
Last month, when discussing the Rob Roy Cocktail, we noted that there aren’t many scotch-based cocktails. Well, there aren’t. But the Blood and Sand is another of the few.
A recipe for the Blood and Sand first appeared in print in the 1930 edition of The Savoy Cocktail Book. The classic recipe calls for equal parts scotch, Cherry Heering (cherry brandy), sweet vermouth, and orange juice. That makes a pretty sweet drink, though. We prefer more modern, dryer versions that use two parts scotch and one part each of the other ingredients.
Fresh-squeezed orange juice works best in this drink, but you can use the bottled “fresh” stuff in a pinch. And if you have blood oranges, they’ll add extra color.
Traditionally, the Blood and Sand is served straight up in a cocktail glass. But we also like it on the rocks.
This recipe takes about 5 minutes to prepare, and serves one.
- 1½ ounces scotch whisky (we prefer blended; see Notes)
- ¾ ounce Cherry Heering liqueur
- ¾ ounce sweet vermouth (Italian red vermouth)
- ¾ ounce fresh-squeezed orange juice
- orange twist for garnish (optional; may substitute maraschino cherry)
- Combine all ingredients (except garnish) in a cocktail shaker half-filled with ice. Shake until well chilled (about 20 seconds).
- Strain into a cocktail glass (preferably one that’s been chilled; may also serve in an Old-Fashioned glass over ice). Add an orange twist for garnish, if you like, and serve.
- Scotch aficionados swoon over single-malt scotch. But for cocktails, we prefer to use blended scotch. It’s less expensive, and the flavor works better. But if you insist on using single-malt, you’ll have a wonderful drink.
- Any name-brand blended scotch will work well in this drink. If in doubt, ask the friendly folks at your liquor store.
- Cherry Heering is a sweet, ruby-hued, cherry-flavored Danish liqueur (technically, it’s cherry brandy). We use it mainly as a cocktail ingredient. But you can also enjoy it straight, either chilled in a cordial glass or on the rocks.
- You can substitute tequila (or bourbon) for scotch in this drink. If using tequila, we recommend a nicely aged reposado.
- The Blood and Sand Cocktail is a favorite at Tiki-Ti, the famous Los Angeles Tiki bar. They generally serve it on the rocks. When they pour a tequila version, the whole bar (it’s a small establishment) chants Toro, Toro, Toro! as the bartender adds tequila to the drink. Sounds like our kind of place.
- Valentino’s screen version of Blood and Sand was based on a 1908 novel by Vicente Blasco Ibáñez (in Spanish, the book is titled Sangre y arena).
- The first movie adaptation of the book was directed by Ibáñez himself in 1916. But the Valentino version of 1922 became much more famous. Another screen adaptation appeared in 1941, starring Tyrone Power, Linda Darnell and Rita Hayworth. And it was remade once again in 1989, with Chris Rydell and Sharon Stone.
- So what’s the plot? A poor village boy (Juan Gallardo) grows up to become one of Spain’s great matadors. (Small town boy makes good.) He marries his childhood sweetheart. But once he becomes a celebrity, he begins to lust after a rich widow. So it’s a love triangle. The usual, ahem, BS.
- Valentino played the part of Juan Gallardo (of course). He considered Blood and Sand his best film, and hoped to be remembered for it. But he was probably best known during his (short) lifetime for his role in The Sheik, a 1921 desert-romance potboiler.
In the Ring
“Swell drink,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “I should put on my toreador pants.”
“That would be alluring to a Latin-lover type,” I said. “Such as myself.”
“That comment was a red flag,” said Mrs K R. “Careful. I might charge at it.”
“And wound your matador of mixology?” I said. “We should be dashing off for love in the shade!”
“Or death in the afternoon,” said Mrs K R.
You may also enjoy reading about:
Rob Roy Cocktail
Hula Hula Cocktail
Singapore Sling Cocktail
Straits Sling Cocktail
Death in the Afternoon Cocktail
Or check out the index for more