If you’re new to the peaty waters of Scotch cocktails, the Blood and Sand is a great way to get your toes wet. As one of the very few classic Scotch cocktails, it stands alone for its strange ingredients—and the gap in its history.

On paper, the recipe doesn’t make much sense. It calls for equal parts orange juice, sweet vermouth, rich cherry liqueur, and Scotch. It sounds like it would be an expensive, unbalanced disaster, but somehow, by shaking it together, it works. And thanks to the huge variety of sweet vermouths and scotches available, its flavor can range from delicate to hauntingly smoky.

Unlike its changeable flavor profile, its history is more straightforward. The cocktail is mentioned by name in the humorous 1926 travel guide A Cocktail Continentale, but its recipe wasn’t printed until the 1930 edition of Harry Craddock’s The Savoy Cocktail Book. It was most likely created in London in the mid-1920s. In 1922, a silent, black-and-white movie titled Blood & Sand starring Rudolph Valentino was released. Valentino plays a poor Spanish boy who becomes a successful bullfighter, falls in love with two women, and meets a tragic end. The film was hugely successful, and a bartender likely tried to capitalize on the movie’s recognizable name to sell drinks.

After its initial popularity, the cocktail faded from relevance until the mid-1990s, when master bartender Dale DeGroff rediscovered it. Wherever it went, we’re glad it's back.

Hit The Lab

Blood & Sand
Modified from The Savoy Cocktail Book

3/4 oz orange juice
3/4 oz Italian vermouth (sweet vermouth)
3/4 oz cherry brandy (Heering is closest)
3/4 oz Scotch whisky

Measure all ingredients into a shaker tin. Add ice and shake vigorously for 15-18 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Blood and Sanguinello

¾ oz Glenfiddich 12 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky
¾ o Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur
¾ oz Lillet Rouge
¼ oz fresh pink grapefruit juice
½ oz fresh lemon juice
4 Luxardo Maresca cherries
½ egg white
2 dashes Regan’s orange bitters

Muddle cherries in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add all ingredients to the shaker and shake vigorously without ice for 15-18 seconds. Add ice and shake well again. Strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with a spiral of orange zest.