Just because something is considered “classic” doesn’t necessarily make it good. Take the Blood and Sand, a notoriously problematic cocktail that keeps finding its way onto bar menus. Named after the 1922 bullfighter movie starring Rudolph Valentino, the drink combines Scotch whisky, sweet vermouth, Cherry Heering liqueur, and orange juice in equal measure, with muddled results. Fortunately, intrepid bartenders have taken it upon themselves to better this cocktail, from small tweaks to reinterpretations. Here are three versions that improve upon the original.
A Better Blood and Sand
1 1/4 oz. blended scotch
1 oz. sweet vermouth (Robinson uses a 50:50 mix of Carpano Antica and Punt e Mes)
3/4 oz. fresh orange juice
1/2 oz. fresh lime juice
1/2 oz. Cherry Heering liqueur
Tools: shaker, strainer
Garnish: dehydrated (or fresh) orange slice
To make the drink, add all the ingredients to an ice-filled shaker. Shake well and strain into a coupe, then garnish.
Adam Robinson, Deadshot, Portland, Oregon
Ichor and Glass
1 oz. of blended scotch (Casey recommends Compass Box Great King St. Glasgow Blend)
3/4 oz. orange-infused scotch
3/4 oz. Cherry Heering
1/2 oz. sweet vermouth
1/4 oz. dry curaçao
Tools: mixing glass, barspoon, strainer
Glass: Old Fashioned
To make the drink, in a mixing glass with ice combine all of the ingredients. Stir and strain into the glass over a large ice cube, then express and discard 1 lemon and 1 orange peel over the drink.
Orange-Infused ScotchSimply combine the zest of 3 oranges with one 750 ml bottle of blended scotch in a covered container; allow to infuse for 5 to 7 days, then remove the zest and rebottle for use.
Ryan Casey for The Dewberry, Charleston, South Carolina
1 1/2 oz. single malt scotch (Jack Rose uses Auchentoshan 3 Wood)
4 dashes barrel-aged bitters
1 orange wheel
4 brandied cherries
1/4 oz. simple syrup (1:1)
3/4 oz. full-bodied red wine (Zinfandel or Barolo)
Tools: shaker, muddler, strainer, fine-mesh strainer
Garnish: dehydrated (or fresh) orange slice and a brandied cherry
To make the drink, in a shaker tin add the orange wheel, brandied cherries, and simple syrup and use a muddler to crush the fruit. Add the single malt scotch, barrel-aged bitters, and ice, then shake. Double strain into a glass holding a big ice cube, then top with a float of red wine, and garnish.
Andy Bixby for Jack Rose Dining Saloon, Washington, D.C.
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