The Blood and Sand is a scotch-based cocktail that was invented in the 1920s. It’s known for the reddish color it gets from Heering cherry liqueur — which we’re guessing is the “blood.” The “sand” is orange juice, which is all to say: things were pretty weird in the 1920’s.
The drink is gets its name from the 1922 silent bullfighter movie Blood and Sand. (Nosferatu was already taken.) The film stars Rudolph Valentino, the sultry romantic leading man of his day. Think Ryan Reynolds, but silent. We know. That’s impossible.
Fans of the cocktail say if you mix it correctly using the original cherry Heering, the ruby-toned cocktail is a fine blend of smoky and sweet, and definitely not a waste of single malt Scotch whiskey. The original recipe first appeared in the 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book. And now it’s also below!
Blood and Sand Ingredients
- ¾ ounce of scotch
- ¾ ounce of sweet vermouth
- ¾ ounce of Heering or comparable cherry liqueur
- ¾ ounce of freshly squeezed orange juice
- Garnish of orange peel
How to Make the Blood and Sand
- Pour the scotch, sweet vermouth, Heering, and orange juice into a shaker filled with ice. If you don’t have a shaker, use something with a tight lid, like an empty peanut butter jar.
- Shake well. Like very, very well. Keep shaking.
- Strain into a chilled glass. We prefer using a pasta strainer to our fingers, and an actual cocktail strainer to both of these.
- Garnish with an orange peel.
Blood and Sand Variations You Could Try
Unfortunately, this cocktail is pretty divisive. You’ll either love it or hate it. These haters argue that the Blood and Sand tastes too much like a screwdriver, blaming the equal parts everything in the drink and their college flashbacks. If you’re one of these people, drink something else or try one of the following variations:
- Add more scotch and sweet vermouth and reduce the amount of orange juice or leave it out altogether
- Replace the OJ with something less likely to bring to mind a certain former football player, like :
- Blood orange juice
- Grapefruit juice
- Red wine
- Pureed beet juice
Just How Strong Is This Cocktail?
This drinks isn’t super strong, at least compared to other cocktails. Regardless of which substitute you use for the orange juice, according to this calculator, your Blood and Sand should come out to only about a shot and a half or 20% alcohol by volume (32 proof), which is about the same as a whiskey sour. That’s because while it has 2.25 ounces of alcohol, vermouth and cherry liquer are relatively low in alcohol content.
How Long Should I Be Shaking This Thing?
The longer you shake, the better your Blood and Sand will taste. Shake it like your mama gave ya, or like a Polaroid picture, or like you’re waking the dead — like Valentino.
Blood and SandPrint Recipe
- ¾ oz. scotch
- ¾ oz. sweet vermouth
- ¾ oz. Heering (or another cherry liqueur)
- ¾ oz. orange juice (freshly squeezed)
- orange peel (for garnish (optional))
- Pour scotch, sweet vermouth, cherry liqueur, and orange juice into a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
- Shake very well and strain into chilled glass.
- Garnish with orange peel.
Cocktail images by Angela Persicke of Cooking with Wine.
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