The Blood and Sand cocktail is one of the more contentious cocktails in a bartender’s back pocket. Fresh blood orange juice, sweet Vermouth, and Heering cherry liqueur, along with blended scotch create a balanced and uniquely-refreshing cocktail with hints of cherry and tart citrus. If made correctly, I like to think of it as a sophisticated mimosa.
The Blood and Sand cocktail was created to promote its namesake, Rudolph Valentino’s 1922 film about a great matador. Originally, the red Cherry Heering was meant to represent the “blood” and orange juice, the “sand.” I’d like to think substituting blood-orange for original recipe’s plain orange juice only adds to the dramatic symbolism.
So, why do so many bartenders avoid this historic cocktail?
Most people point to the equal-proportioned yet overpowering orange juice as being a major downfall. Some say that it all comes down to bartending technique. I like to think it is the use of rarely used ingredients taking up shelf space and a lack of orders.
I’ve made this cocktail with both regular orange juice juice and various cherry liqueurs, but the breakthrough came when I was finally was able to prepare it during blood orange season. Now, blood orange juice won’t necessarily make or break the recipe, but it does change the overall flavor for the better. Too much regular orange juice and you risk turning this cocktail from a Blood and Sand into a Screwdriver.
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Elevating the Blood and Sand Cocktail
One of the important ingredients to stay true to is Heering Cherry Liqueur. On its own, the cherry liqueur tastes thick and medicinal, somewhat like Robitussin. In the Blood and Sand cocktail, however, it is absolutely outstanding.
If you cannot find Heering Cherry Liqueur anywhere, the only substitute I’ve found which maintains a balanced flavor is Luxardo Cherry Sangue Morlacco.
I like to make this cocktail for Halloween and the end of fall/beginning of winter when Blood Oranges are in season and available in store.
If you must use store bought orange juice, go for the kind with pulp. I’ve found the texture of pulp, whether from fresh or store-bought orange juice makes a world of difference.
After testing my own Blood and Sand variations and ordering the cocktail at a variety of high-end craft cocktail establishments, I’ve come up with this well-balanced recipe. Enjoy!
Blood and Sand Cocktail
- 1/2 oz Blended Scotch Oban 14 is my preference
- 1/2 oz Blood Orange juice Freshly squeezed. Regular orange juice to substitute.
- 1/2 oz Cocchi Sweet Vermouth Can substitute with Cynar 33 for less sweetness (My favorite variation)
- 1/2 oz Heering Cherry liqueur Can substitute with Luxardo Cherry Sangue Morlacco
- 1 Blood orange Peel or slice for garnish
- 1 Cherry Luxardo or other aged brand
- Combine scotch, blood orange juice, vermouth, and cherry liqueur in a shaker filled with ice.
- Shake vigorously for about 15 seconds, enough to showcase a nice froth on top after pouring.
- Strain into a martini glass and garnish with blood orange peel and cherry. Serve.
From recipes using locally sourced ingredients and terroir-centric cooking, craft cocktails, to the latest in tech and home DIY projects, Michael yearns to share his learned and found knowledge of the world.