Bobby Heugel's Weekly Cocktail: The Blood and Sand

There are very few cocktails that call for Scotch that are worth the effort it takes to make them. While there are some exceptions, the Blood and Sand is the undisputed among today's cocktail enthusiasts. Named for the 1922 Rudolph Valentino silent film of the same name, the Blood and Sand is like the movie - driven by an uncommon union of multiple spirits.

Scotch cocktails are unpopular largely because those interested in Scotch prefer to enjoy it by itself -- a position which needs no explanation when one considers the ongoing rise in Scotch prices and the delicate flavors that tend to be sacrificed once mixed. However, there are some affordable mild-mannered Scotches that are great cocktail options. These work best in certain cocktails that require a mellow whisky flavor, as opposed to the overbearing nature of bourbon and rye.

Famous Grouse, Sheep Dip, Pigs Nose, Tamdhu, and Compass Box Asyla are all examples of brands that are good mixing Scotches that won't break your bank and work well in cocktails. These spirits yield well to the other flavors in the Blood and Sand. The drink's Cherry Heering is a very sweet, rich cherry liqueur that needs the orange juice and sweet vermouth to remain balanced. Ultimately, however, it is the Scotch that rounds the cocktail's flavor and provides a solid backbone that keeps it from going in a sweeter, tiki direction. When shaken and strained, the cocktail is a dark-red color like blood, with a brownish, sand-like surface.

The recipe, after the jump.

Blood and Sand

1 ounce Scotch 1 ounce Sweet Vermouth 1 ounce Cherry Heering liqueur 1 ounce Orange Juice

Shake and strain into a cocktail glass.

Tips: 1. Remember to use only fresh vermouth. Read more about this issue in our post about the Vieux Carre. 2. If you don't mind spending a bit more, a peaty Islay Scotch also works well in this cocktail, adding an interesting degree of smokiness to the drink.

In the film Blood and Sand, Valentino's character, Juan Gallardo, becomes involved in a torrid affair with a widow, who eventually publicly reveals the affair. Gallardo's famous career as a bullfighter declines as a result of the events in his personal life, until his eventual death during a bullfight. Gallardo dies as he proclaims his love for his wife, reconciling with their past.

So, this week's cocktail carries two very important lessons. First, it is time that Scotch get some love from fans of the cocktail. Scotch can be an effective mixer in cocktails; buy one of the recommended brands and give this cocktail, as well as the Mamie Taylor and the Rob Roy, a try. More important, however, is the story of the Blood and Sand. This cocktail is outstanding, so make one for your significant other this weekend. After he or she has had a few; share the origins of this cocktail and the story of Juan Gallardo. Hopefully, he or she will enjoy the cocktail and the story, but if only the drink is of interest, you might want to consider bringing home a bull with the Scotch next time...

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Bobby Heugel