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Blood & Sand Cocktail Recipe

Blood & Sand Cocktail Recipe

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1 rating

March 21, 2011


Maryse Chevriere

Blood & Sand Cocktail

This version of the classic cocktail inspired by Rudolph Valentino's bullfighter movie of the same name features Highland Park scotch.



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  • ¾ ounce Highland Park scotch whisky
  • ¾ ounce rosso vermouth
  • ¼ ounce cherry brandy
  • 1 ½ ounces orange juice
  • Ice


Shake all of the ingredients together over ice, strain into a chilled martini glass and serve.


Behind the Drink: The Blood and Sand

“Could you write about the history of the Blood and Sand?” asked my intrepid editor at “Of course, sir. Leave it to me,” I replied.

To the best of my knowledge, the recipe for the drink first appeared in print in Harry Craddock’s 1930 The Savoy Cocktail Book.

Unfortunately, that’s all we know about the origins of the Blood and Sand, a concoction that was introduced to me by advisor Dale DeGroff when he held forth from behind the bar at New York’s Rainbow Room, circa 1997. More on this in just a minute.

So if we don’t know its inventor and we’ve no idea about the establishment in which it originally reared its spicy little head (unless it was the Savoy), what else do we know about the tipple? Nothing, save the fact that, in all probability, it was named for a 1922 movie starring Rudolph Valentino, the silent-film star known as “The Latin Lover.”

Valentino’s performance in Blood and Sand—it centered on a bullfighter and was based on the novel by Vincente Blasco Ibáñez—was said to have been one of his finest, though the picture itself wasn’t exactly hailed as a masterpiece. “It is the story’s name and not the story or plot that made Blood and Sand the big hit,” wrote a reviewer at the time. Such is not the case with the cocktail, however.

When Dale told me about it, he said that the list of ingredients pretty much confounded him, so he just had to try one. I had to concur. Scotch, cherry brandy, sweet vermouth and orange juice don’t seem to belong in the same crib, let alone the same glass. The fact is that the Blood and Sand works very well, indeed. But this drink by any other name would taste as sweet. Sorry, Mr. Shakespeare.

Blood & Sand Cocktail Recipe - Recipes

Blood and Sand

* 3/4 ounce Scotch
* 3/4 ounce Cherry Heering
* 3/4 ounce sweet vermouth
* 3/4 ounce fresh orange juice
* Flamed orange zest for garnish

Combine all the ingredients in an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake until cold and then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Flame the orange zest over the top of the glass.

Alternately, build the cocktail in an ice-filled collins glass and top with another splash of orange juice before adding the garnish.

This drink is a little sweet, but definitely not too sweet, and a little fruity from the vermouth and orange juice. I mainly tasted the vermouth while Sarai says tastes the Scotch. Be careful with the orange juice, as it’s easy to overpower the rest of your ingredients with it.


The Wall Street Journal as posted an article about this drink and its history, calling it Strange, but Delicious. The cocktail takes its name from the 1922 Rudolph Valentino film of the same name. The article goes on to offer some good suggestions regarding ingredients for people making these at home.

  • 6 ounces peated Scotch whisky, such as The Peat Monster
  • 4 ounces fresh blood orange juice from about 4 blood oranges
  • 3 ounces sweet vermouth, such as Carpano Antica
  • 2 ounces Luxardo cherry syrup (from a jar of Luxardo cherries see note)
  • 1 ounce Grand Marnier
  • 4 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 4 blood orange slices and 4 Luxardo cherries, for garnish (see note)

Pour Scotch, blood orange juice, sweet vermouth, cherry syrup, Grand Marnier, and Angostura bitters into a resealable freezer-safe container. Seal and freeze for at least 8 and up to 24 hours.

When ready to serve, pour Scotch mixture into a blender with 4 cups ice. Blend until smooth. Divide between four coupe glasses and garnish each glass with an orange slice and Luxardo cherry.

The Blood and Sand Restaurant, St. Louis, MO

The first time I had this drink was in the exclusive members only St. Louis establishment by the same name. The Blood and Sand restaurant is located in downtown St. Louis at 1500 St. Charles Street.

Picture courtesy of Blood and Sand Restaurant St. Louis.

Fortunately when we went there for the first time, we were using Google Maps. You need to know what to look for when you go since there is no sign to herald their location. From its mysterious front to its eclectic decor, it is reminiscent of the 1920’s hidden speak easies.

WTF Is Wrong With the Blood and Sand Cocktail?

Theoretically the Blood and Sand cocktail is a time-honored classic. In actuality, it’s a murky mess that’s one of the canon’s more infamous scourges.


Silver and Sand

Ichor and Glass

Blood and Sanguinello

“I honestly do not understand why the Blood and Sand is part of the modern-day cocktail lexicon,” says Ryan Casey, bar manager of The Living Room, a newly-opened bar within the Dewberry Charleston hotel in Charleston, South Carolina. “I’ve never put it on the menu. I’ve never ordered it on purpose.”

Originally created in London to commemorate a 1922 bullfighter movie of the same name, the formula for the original Blood and Sand— equal parts Scotch, Cherry Heering liqueur, orange juice and sweet vermouth, which first appeared Harry Craddock’s 1930 The Savoy Cocktail Book — has its roots in metaphor the red Cherry Heering is said to represent the “blood” and orange juice, the “sand.”

The problem, however, is how easily it can fall out of balance. “It ends up tasting like an orange juice with alcohol in it, kind of like a Screwdriver,” explains Casey. So while, miraculously, it’s managed to stand the test of time, the question now is how to fix it.

Some say the problem is the proportions—that the Scotch and sweet vermouth should outweigh the other two components, creating a slightly sweeter Rob Roy-style variation. Others complain it’s the orange juice that’s problematic: it’s too acidic, the texture is too thick, the bright hue turns muddy when mixed and so on. (This, interesting enough, is one of the gripes launched at the Ward Eight, another notoriously troubled classic cocktail that has itself recently undergone a makeover in its hometown.)

As a result, many dial down the orange juice or drop it altogether. Sometimes, the effort to remove the OJ results in odd contortions—swapping in everything from alternative citrus (blood orange, lemon or grapefruit juices) to red wine or even pureed beets to varying degrees of success. One of the more successful OJ solutions, dubbed the Blood & Sanguinello, came by way of William & Grant brand ambassador Charlotte Voisey, who swapped in Solerno orange liqueur, plus grapefruit and lemon juices, pleasantly balancing the tart and sweet elements of the drink.

“If you’re not sweating, you’re not doing it right.”

Casey’s solution, however, might be the most elegant: He uses no juice at all. Instead, in his Ichor and Glass he calls on a blend of two orange liqueurs (including Compass Box’s Orangerie, which has a Scotch whisky base), for a stirred, complex, spirit-forward version of the classic, which leans more toward the aforementioned Rob Roy.

“The challenge was figuring out a way to remove the silly ingredient that doesn’t make sense to me—the orange juice—and [replace it with] things that do make sense,” he explains.

Yet, while many bartenders are hustling to build a better Blood and Sand, some say it’s not the recipe that’s the problem it’s bartending technique that needs to be improved to make the drink work. “If the Scotch isn’t too smoky and the orange juice is fresh squeezed, it’s great,” says T.J. Vytlacil, founder and advisory board member of private cocktail club Blood & Sand in St. Louis.

Vytlacil remains a staunch defender of the Blood and Sand the equal parts classic is the number-one seller at the eponymous bar, where it’s made with Lismor Scotch—a gentle, un-smoky Speyside single malt—Dolin sweet vermouth, fresh orange juice and Cherry Heering. But he also offers 10 variations on the menu, including the luscious Silver and Sand, made with egg white and ginger- and lemon-infused Dewar’s.

A final tip from Vytlacil: If your Blood and Sand is lackluster, it might be because you’re not shaking it vigorously enough. “Shake the crap out of it so you get a good froth on it,” he insists. It shouldn’t require as much effort as shaking a Ramos Gin Fizz , but you’ll have to put some muscle into it. “You should definitely break a sweat making a Blood and Sand. If you’re not sweating, you’re not doing it right.”

Blood and Sand

  • 1 ounce Scotch, blended
  • 1 ounce cherry liqueur (preferably Cherry Heering)
  • 1 ounce sweet vermouth
  • 1 ounce orange juice, freshly squeezed
  1. Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker.
  2. Add ice and shake.
  3. Strain into a chilled coupe or cocktail glass.
Editor's Note

Not all cherry liqueurs are created equal your best bet for this drink is the Danish liqueur Cheery Heering.

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Rye on Fire [Cocktail Recipe]

This rye-based cocktail starts off citrusy but finishes on a spicy note, thanks to the addition of chile liqueur and habanero shrub.

How to Make a Blood and Sand Cocktail

Glass: Rocks
Tools: Shaker, lighter

  • .75 oz American single malt whiskey
  • .75 oz sweet red vermouth
  • .75 oz cherry brandy
  • .75 oz blood orange juice
  • Orange peel, for garnish

Method: Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice. Shake well. Strain into a rocks glass. Take orange peel and flame it over the glass before dropping it in.

This recipe features Balcones Texas Single Malt Whisky, the winner of the Single Malt Whiskey category in The Manual Spirit Awards 2019. If you’re looking to find other cocktail videos, we recommend checking out how to make a Bee’s Knees, a whiskey sour, a mojito, or a whiskey smash.

Blood and Sand - Classic Scotch Cocktail

A classic Scotch cocktail with vermouth and blood orange juice.


  • 1.25 oz Scotch
  • 1 oz cherry brandy
  • 1 oz freshly squeezed blood orange juice
  • 1 oz sweet vermouth


Pour all ingredients into a shaker.

Fill with ice. Shake vigorously.

Strain into cocktail coupe.

Garnish with a brandied cherry or enjoy straight.

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Watch the video: Blood and Sand Classic Scotch Whiskey Cocktail Recipe


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