Asking bartenders about their opinion on the Blood & Sand recipe will lead to very different responses. For some, the drink shouldn't be on any bar menu. Others don't like the original formula and tweak it to make it more suitable for today's palates.
A third group defends the original formula and tries to perfect this cocktail classic based on the usual mix of Scotch and orange juice.
Quick Facts Blood & Sand Cocktail
- Method: shaken
- Flavor profile: smoky, slightly fruity, boozy & sour
- How to serve it: without ice in a chilled glass
- Glassware: coupe glass
- Alcohol content: ~ 20% ABV, 14 grams per serving
But let's start with a look at the original recipe of this Whisky drink and continue from there. It's also a good starting point to tweak it to your personal liking.
- 1 Jigger
- 1 Shaker
- 1 Strainer
- 0.75 oz Speyside single malt
- 0.75 oz Dolin Sweet Vermouth
- 0.75 oz Fresh Orange juice
- 0.75 oz Heering Cherry liqueur
- 1 orange peel
- Add all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice and shake vigorously for around 20 - 25 seconds.0.75 oz Speyside single malt, 0.75 oz Dolin Sweet Vermouth, 0.75 oz Fresh Orange juice, 0.75 oz Heering Cherry liqueur
- Double-strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with an orange peel.1 orange peel
Ingredients of the Blood & Sand Cocktail
To better understand how you can adjust the original recipe, we should look at the flavors of the individual components. Especially since you won't find the combination of ingredients that go into the Blood and Sand very often:
- Scotch: a type of whisky known for its peaty flavor. Yet, the level of smokiness varies widely, depending on the region where it was produced. So, your choice of Scotch makes a big difference to the resulting cocktail.
- Sweet Vermouth: This is a fortified white wine infused with herbs and spices. It is sweet, herbaceous, and spicy.
- Cherry Heering liqueur: a cherry-flavored liqueur that's sweet, fruity, rich, and low in alcohol. It's a favorite of many bartenders - including us- when a cocktail recipe calls for cheery liqueur.
- Orange juice: the most controversial element in this drink. Orange juice in cocktails is often problematic because it is so overpowering. Use fresh juice only because this creates a far better balance.
The Problem with the Orange Juice
The orange juice in the cocktail is the biggest issue among critics. Much like with a classic Screwdriver cocktail or a Tequila Sunrise, orange juice can quickly dominate a drink and ruin its complexity.
So, above all, if you intend to use orange juice in this or any other cocktail, make it freshly squeezed. That is far less sweet, which already solves a big part of the problem. Alternatively, you can replace it with similar citrus juices from blood oranges or grapefruits.
Another common complaint about the Blood & Sand cocktail addresses the rich consistency. But how to fix it?
Variations - Adjusting measurements
The biggest criticisms concerning the Blood & Sand cocktail are the measurements and the use of orange juice. But luckily, with this drink, there is a solution - or rather a variation- for everyone. You can accentuate certain ingredients or leave off the orange juice entirely.
In the original recipe, all four ingredients are combined in equal measurements. However, and here the trouble lies, many find this version too sweet. So, if you also like your drinks a little less sugary, adjust the measurements.
Many modern approaches create a more Scotch-forward version to cut through the liqueur-juice mix.
While the traditional recipe asks for 0.75oz of each ingredient, a favorite Scotch-forward recipe uses 1 oz of Scotch and orange juice and 0.75 of sweet vermouth and cherry liqueur.
The most sophisticated way is to omit the juice completely. Instead, use orange liqueur like triple sec. Note that this will create a strong drink with only alcoholic ingredients. In that case, you should also stir the drink, not mix it.
Tips for lovers of the classic recipe
If you're a fan of the traditional recipe and want to make the most out of it, here are some ways to improve your cocktail:
- The key to a great Blood & Sand is the right combination of Scotch and orange juice. Start with a not-too-smoky Scotch and freshly squeezed orange juice. A Speyside single malt works a treat in this classic.
- Stick to Heering Cherry liqueur, no cheap substitutes, and opt for a quality vermouth like the one from Dolin to complete the list of ingredients.
- Shake your Blood & Sand cocktail longer and vigorously. By putting in more muscles, you get more air into the drink, improving its consistency. You will also end up with a little more dilution.
History of the Blood & Sand
The Blood & Sand cocktail was invented in London and is named after a movie of the same name released in 1922.
The recipe was published for the first time in Harry Craddocks The Savoy Cocktail Book, where he asks for equal amounts of Scotch, Italian vermouth (a synonym for sweet vermouth), cherry brandy, and orange juice.
This traditional recipe makes a rather sweet cocktail with a subtle smokey touch from the Scotch. That characteristic led to the drink being given the dubious title of the best Scotch-based cocktail for non-Scotch haters.
If you like your drinks less controversial and want to try alternatives to the smoky whisky from Scotland, try one of the other popular Scotch Cocktails.
While the traditional recipe asks for 0.75oz of each ingredient, a more Scotch-forward recipe uses 1 oz of Scotch and orange juice and 0.75 of Sweet Vermouth and cherry liqueur.
A well-made Blood & Sand cocktail tastes slightly smoky with sweet and fruity notes from fresh orange juice, sweet vermouth, and cherry liqueur.
The Blood & Sand was invented in London and first published in written form by Harry Craddock in his famous cocktail bible "The Savoy Cocktail Book."
It's best to use a not too smoky Scotch Whisky. For instance, you can take a Speyside single malt.
In a classic Blood & Sand, all ingredients are measured evenly at 0.75oz. In a more Scotch-forward version, use 1 oz Scotch, 1 oz orange juice, 0,75 oz sweet vermouth, and 0.75 oz cherry Heering.