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.
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!