I’ve never actually tasted a Blood & Sand. It seems like that classic foreign film I keep wanting to watch, but I just can’t bring myself queue up whenever I sit down for movietime.
— JT Dobbs
First they wrote the book1, then they made a movie2 (for which the drink is named,) then they remade it four separate times, once with Sharon Stone. The French re-imagined it as a study of male friendship and determination with a sprinkling of anti-war sentiment and homoerotic undertones3. The STARZ Network simply used the title for their boob-n-gore-soaked, gladiatorial man-drama, Spartacus: Blood and Sand.
If all that sounds confusing, off-putting or even intriguing, let me present to you the ingredients:
The Blood and Sand
- 1 - 1.5 oz. blended scotch
- 1 oz. fresh orange Juice
- 3/4 oz. sweet vermouth
- 3/4 oz. cherry brandy
Shake this unholy gaggle of ingredients with ice and strain into a coupe or martini glass. Garnish with a good cherry and if you’re really going to go this far, a flamed orange zest.
It tastes a lot like chewing a wooden popsicle stick on a hot day: sweet and woody and strange but you can’t stop yourself. And if that doesn’t do it for you, think of that as a sexual innuendo.
I’ve said before that I don’t mix scotch drinks. It’s a hard liquor to balance and why do that to the lovely single malts that exist in the world. *Don’t*. Use a blended scotch like Chivas or Johnny Walker. The smokey, dry flavors of the scotch along with the acidity of fresh juice helps cut the sweetness of the vermouth and cherry brandy.
I try to stay away from ultimatums but for this drink you really must use fresh-squeezed orange juice. If you have blood oranges, even better. Store-bought juice will most likely contain added sugar that isn’t needed.
Yes, this is a sweet drink and I’m not a huge fan of overly sweet drinks. The original recipe calls for 3/4 to 1 ounce of each ingredient but I found that cutting down on the sweet vermouth and Cherry Heering makes it a reasonable two-or-three-drink sipper. Otherwise, it’s nice as a dessert drink.
You’ll find yourself trying to explain it to your friends, making excuses for yourself that end with you giggling “It’s great. I like it. I don’t know!” Once you try it, you’ll want it again.
Like sex with a Black man.
ED NOTE: Prompted by an email from Jordan Sjol, a “simple country boy from Wyoming studying abroad,” who asked for some advice on scotch drinks since it’s difficult or expensive to find good old American whiskey in his current digs. Here’s hoping you find access to whiskey with an “e” soon.
From WSJ’s Eric Felten’s Strange but Delicious] - on The Blood and Sand cocktail.
In 1958, newspaper columnist and novelist Robert Ruark summed up the essentials of the genre: “Poor boy makes good as matador, gets spoiled by success, drinks too much and/or takes up with ruinous women, loses his courage, and catches himself on a horn.”
Not that there’s anything wrong with that. ↩