MxMO – Orange

August 13th, 2007

Mixology Monday - Orange

It’s Mixology Monday time again, this month hosted by Gwen at Intoxicated Zodiac with the theme of Orange. Well actually it’s a bit more complicated than that, relating to the star-sign Leo (my own sign, coincidentally), but head over to Intoxicated Zodiac for the full run down.

I use orange bitters and orange zest quite regularly, and Cointreau like it’s going out of fashion, but it is rare I make use of actual orange juice so I wanted to find a cocktail which made good use of it. Whilst browsing The Savoy Cocktail Book I came across a recipe for “Blood & Sand”, a drink that doesn’t have the most appetising of names, but does have an interesting set of ingredients.

The drink was apparently created in 1922 for the premier of Blood and Sand, a film staring Italian actor Rudolf Valentino, although the 1930 reference from The Savoy Cocktail Book seems to be the earliest it appears in print. I’ve never made a cocktail using Scotch before – ironically given my location in Britain, I’ve never been a massive fan of Scottish whisky. However, the combination of ingredients, as well as the odd name, intrigued me enough to give it a try…

Blood & Sand cocktail

Blood & Sand

The Blood & Sand has an amazing rich red colour. It’s initial taste is very sweet, with the vermouth leading the flavour. The cherry and orange hang around in the background with the flavour of the Scotch almost entirely masked by the sweetness of the other ingredients. It wasn’t sickly sweet, and provided an interesting amalgam of flavours, but it wasn’t as balanced as it could be.

The Joy of Mixology lists a second recipe for this drink which cuts back on the sweeter ingredients and allows more of the Scotch flavour through. While still not perfect to my tastes, it was definitely more balanced than the original recipe, allowing a richer set of flavours through. My friend who is a big Scotch drinker, but not much of a cocktailian, loved it.

Whilst researching for this post I came across a further variation posted by Paul, which sounds like it might work well. I also second Paul’s recommendations of fresh orange juice and a decent cherry brandy like Cherry Heering – a cheap brand like Bols or DeKuyper would send this drink in to sugar overload.

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Posted in Cherry Heering, Mixology Monday, Orange, Recipes, Scotch, Vermouth

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10 responses to “MxMO – Orange”

  1. Doug Winship Doug Winship says:

    I’d like to know what sort of Scotch you used. One reason I think it is so seldom used in cocktails is that Scotch varies so wildly in character. Even the blends, which I assume you used, are so different!
    I’m curious, since I just ran across this drink in one of newly acquired books and it looked interesting…. So add decent cherry brandy to my wishlist!

  2. Jay Jay says:

    I did use a blended one yes – Bell’s – I think my friend would have murdered me if I used one of his single-malts in a cocktail!

  3. Intoxicated Zodiac Blog » MXMO XVII says:

    [...] a LEO, from OH GOSH, makes the BLOOD & SAND and provides a nice historical background on this provacatively named tipple. Appropriately chosen, [...]

  4. The Pegu Blog says:

    [...] Jay, over at Oh Gosh!, uses a completely [...]

  5. Mr Manhattan Mr Manhattan says:

    After recently falling in love with this cocktail, I will offer the following: a) bumping the scotch up from a blend to a lower-end single malt adds lots to depth and complexity. I use a Glenfarclas 12 and the difference is enormous, b) to control the sweetness I cut the Vermouth and Heering proportions back by 25% each and c) to further cut sweetness I halved the Heering again and replaced it with an equal measure of Luxardo Maraschino. This adds a kirsch like finishing note.

  6. niels niels says:

    I disagree with Mr Manhattan: Taking a single malt and cutting the other ingredients, not to mention adding maraschino, makes B&S into something completely different.
    The trick with Blood & Sand is choosing the right products and paying attention to the orange juice.
    The balance that works best for me is 4 parts scotch, 4 parts orange juice, 3 parts cherry liqueur, and 3 parts red vermouth.
    Use a Famous Grouse for the scotch, always a Cherry Heering – there’s absolutely nothing that can beat it for darkness and dryness, as cherry liqueurs go.
    And then the orange juice:
    Take a fresh organic orange, cut it in halves, and squeeze the juice out of it as part of making the drink – never use pre-processed oranges. And always taste the juice before you pour it into the shaker: Organic oranges are very different, and if it’s almost lemon-ish tart, use as sweet a red vermouth as you can find – if the orange juice is sweet, take a Punt e Mes.

  7. Tim-goes-Cocktail Tim-goes-Cocktail says:

    Your Blog is the greatest one I’ve ever seen. And especially this Drink sounds great.

    Thanks for that.

    If you have the possibility, I would like to read a comparison of different Falernums.

  8. AlchemistGeorge AlchemistGeorge says:

    I too never had that much interest in using Scotch in cocktails until Millie had a Trilby #2 (Scotch, Parfait Amour, Sweet Vermouth, dash absinthe, dash orange bitters) aat Bourbon & Branch. And Carpano Antica formula made a vermouth believer out of me, although I find that it tends to make drinks look awfully muddy, not like your beautiful photo above. Anyway, can’t wait to try this.

    I have to agree with Niels – you have to find the balance. For a given set of ratios certain flavors predominate and you adjust to get that flavor mix. If you change the ratios too much then you do get a different drink made with the same ingredients.

  9. Mr Manhattan Mr Manhattan says:


    First, nothing says you can’t use a better grade scotch in this cocktail than a blend. That would be like saying a Martini could only ever be made with one particular gin or a Manhattan with only one brand of sweet vermouth or they’d be different cocktails.

    Second, I would encourage you to try bumping the scotch up to a Glenfarclas or Macallan 12 and try the drink made this way for yourself. You might like the more assertive profile of the single malt or you may not. (I’m a scotch drinker, so I do.)


  10. AlchemistGeorge AlchemistGeorge says:

    Mr. Manhattan, I think we probably agree.

    I would suggest that its great to use better scotch, and if you use a more assertive / flavor forward / idiosyncratic scotch that you might want to consider the effect on the other ingredients so that you get that added character from the scotch without completely overshadowing the rest of the ingredients. To choose a rather extreme example, I’ve made the mistake of using Bombay Sapphire Gin in certain drinks where the result is that the only thing you can really taste is that one heavy spice top-note of the Bombay Sapphire gin – and everything else is a murk in the back-ground. I suppose you might get the same result of using Lagavulin in a recipe with no other “strong” ingredients.

    As for the ‘is it a different cocktail?’, the extreme example I’d use is a “Hemingway Daiquiri’ which is white rum, lime, maraschino liqueur, and pink grapefruit juice. The recipes generally call for 1.5 to 2 oz of rum. I’ve seen recipes that use a teaspoon of grapefruit, and recipes that start with ‘juice of one half grapefruit” (4 oz). Is it the same drink w/ a tsp vs. 4 oz of grapefruit juice?

    But most of this is hair splitting and just plain fun to argue about over the bar – we all want to make drinks with incredible flavors and we often have different opinions as to what is ‘fair’ or ‘kosher’ about (a) adjusting the recipe and (b) changing or not changing the name.

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