Blood and Sand

January 24th, 2008  |  Published in liqueur, recipes, scotch, whisk(e)y  |  5 Comments

The Blood and Sand is nothing new. In fact, it’s not even uncommon. They make at least twenty per night at the Tiki-Ti, a fact patrons are well aware of—it’s Ti tradition to yell “Toro! Toro! Toro!” as one of the Mikes tops off a Blood and Sand with a long pour of tequila. If you’ve never heard of a Blood and Sand, the drink was named for the 1922 silent film of the same name which starred Rudolph Valentino as a peasant-turned-bullfighter. The appearance of the drink gives a visual impression of that famous name, with its dusky hue and sand-like granules of ice floating on top. (The Ti’s use of tequila is a variation on the original scotch base of the drink, but tequila is both more common in Southern California and more closely in line with the drink’s matador theme. They will make you one with scotch if you ask, though.)

As Paul has previously noted, the drink appeared in print as early as 1930 in the Savoy Cocktail Book and has popped up in many places since. I’ve been crazy about the Blood and Sand since the first time I flipped open the recipe in Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails. This week, though, I was able to take advantage of a special treat: a friend has an overflowing blood orange tree, so I came home with about ten pounds of fresh, beautiful, deep red oranges. Naturally, it occurred to me that a drink inspired by a matador could stand to be a little bit bloodier, so I turned to the Blood and Sand to try them out.

Blood and Sand

1 oz blended scotch
1 oz blood orange juice
¾ oz sweet vermouth
¾ oz Cherry Heering

Stir sugar with juices in a bar glass until dissolved. Add ice cubes and pisco and stir; strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Generally I don’t talk about my love of citrus fruits—for example, the *cough* invariably large number of satsuma tangerines I’ve been eating every day—however, these oranges make me feel effusive. I cut one open and it was the most amazing color: deep red with hints of rich orange, like garnets floating in honey, and juice so dark it was nearly purple. I was so excited to use it in the drink that I forgot to take a photo of it…but I did taste the juice, which was surprisingly tart, reminiscent of a grapefruit. Besides rendering the whole cocktail a deliciously deep red, the tartness actually helped blend the rougher edges of the alcohol with the sweetness of the Heering and vermouth in a very pleasing way. Hooray for blood oranges!

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  1. Dr. Bamboo says:

    February 1st, 2008at 9:39 am(#)

    I think I’d be partial to the Tequila version…I haven’t yet run across a cocktail with Scotch I’m crazy about.

    This also makes me realize I have to find some excuse to get to the West Coast so I can make a Tiki Ti visit.

  2. Marleigh says:

    February 2nd, 2008at 9:06 am(#)

    You definitely need to go to the Tiki-Ti. It’s pretty effing awesome.

  3. JCB says:

    March 26th, 2008at 2:25 pm(#)

    I had a Blood & Sand martini last night for the first time and it was excellent! I will certainly be ordering again.

  4. Bibi Sue says:

    March 7th, 2009at 4:44 pm(#)

    Had one at a local restaurant (Spengers in Berkeley) and was immediately hooked. It bumped the Manhattan as my libation of choice… Don’t know how it’d be with Tequila, tho (like the scotch used, it would depend on which one you used)… but the scotch ones are, ummmm good.

  5. Marleigh says:

    March 16th, 2009at 9:32 am(#)

    The scotch ones are my favorite for sure, but the tequila version is good if you use a suitably flavorful reposado that has some smoky and/or earthy characteristics. I haven’t tried it yet, but I think mescal would be a fantastic variation in this cocktail.

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