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How the Blood and Sand Cocktail Got Its Name

Blood and Sand Cocktail

Blood and Sand is among the most popular classic scotch-based cocktails. Dating back to the 1920s and 1930s, the cocktail has proven its uniqueness. It is similar to the Martinez or Manhattan but adds cherry liqueur and blood orange juice. Unlike most scotch cocktails that are spicy and boozy, this drink is semi-sweet and light with a balanced cherry flavor which will please even those that don't usually take Scotch. Here is an exclusive look at the Blood and Sand Cocktail's history, recipe, and how it got its name.

The Blood and Sand Cocktail History

Blood and Sand Cocktail first appeared in 1930 The Savoy cocktail book by Harry Craddock. However, there is some history behind the cocktail before that. What is known about the red-hued cocktail is that it was inspired by the 1922 silent movie Blood and Sand. According to, the 1922 silent film was a box office hit, but no one knows who was inspired by the movie to make the cocktail. Therefore, the credit goes to Harry Craddock for publishing the recipe in his book in 1930. The star of the film is Rudolph Valentino, a bullfighter that arises from a humble beginning to be one of the greatest matadors in Spain, later to lose it all. While this was not the best film by Valentino, the actor claimed it was his most outstanding performance. This cocktail is traditionally prepared with equal parts of four ingredients; Cherry Brandy, Scotch Whisky, Sweet Vermouth, and fresh orange juice. The cherry brandy's deep amber color represents the Blood and the orange juice, the sand. Like Valentino, the Blood and Sand is a sweet, sleek, and sophisticated cocktail that uses Scotch as the base spirit, dressing it with a curious combination of vermouth, orange juice, and cherry liqueur. This makes it a perfect getaway drink for individuals that like Scotch and a good change of pace for scotch lovers who usually take it straight. However, this is a scotch-based cocktail; it's not super sweet or overly smokey.

How Did Blood and Sand Get Its Name?

The Blood and Sand Cocktail got its name from the 1922 silent bullfighter film, 'Blood and Sand.' The Scotch signifies the Blood, and orange juice represents the sand. According to, the blood orange's red sap in the cocktail helped associate the drink to the movie. The name and the cocktail in totality feature an image of a romantic but disastrous tale of blood striking sand. However, it was not till Harry Craddock enlisted it in his eminent 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book that the cocktail began to gain popularity in America. Using the juice of blood oranges and the deep color helps keep it allied to its name. Fascinatingly, this is among the few classic mixed drinks that include Scotch.

A Perfect Drink for The Fall

You can't ask for a better cocktail to sip on a chilly autumn evening. While the cherry liqueur and fresh blood orange juice are evocative of a warm summer day, the Blood and Sand Cocktail has fine smoky Scotch with a rich soggy flavor for you to enjoy a cool autumn evening beside a roaring bonfire. So, if you are looking for cold-weather cocktails, the Blood and Sand Cocktail will help keep you warm. While it's your choice to play the 1922 silent movie or not, taking while watching the film might be an excellent touch.

The Blood and Sand Cocktail Recipe


  • 0.75 ounce of Scotch
  • 0.75 ounce of cherry liqueur
  • 0.75 ounce of freshly extracted orange juice
  • 0.75 ounce of sweet vermouth
  • A garnish of orange peel


  • Put the equal ingredients; cherry liqueur, scotch, red orange juice, and sweet vermouth into an ice-filled shaker. You can also use something else with a tight lid, such as an empty jar if you don't have a shaker.
  • Shake the mix thoroughly.
  • It's recommendable to use a cocktail strainer rather than the fingers.
  • Garnish the drink. Once you shake the ingredients well, strain them into a glass using a fresh orange peel.
  • The cocktail is normally served in a coupe glass, also referred to as the Champagne Coupe.

If you want to make a splash, light the orange zest on fire immediately before serving. Rub it on the rip of the glass and add a touch of orange juice on top of it. The Valentino Movie is optional while having a fire in the fireplace is recommended.

Blood and Sand Cocktail Variations

Whether or not you love this cocktail, you can also try other variations of this drink. One of the Blood and Sand Cocktail variations is adding more sweet vermouth and Scotch and decreasing the amount of orange juice or leaving it. If you love a sweeter cocktail or your whisky is on the dry side, you can consider increasing the cherry or orange, and if you want it a bit spicy, add a splash of vermouth. You can also make the Blood and Sand Cocktail variation by replacing the orange juice with other ingredients such as; red wine, grapefruit juice, or pureed beet juice.

How Strong Is the Blood and Sand Cocktail?

The Blood and Sand Cocktail is not very strong compared to most cocktails. Irrespective of the substitute you use for the orange juice, the cocktail should only be a shot and half, containing 20% alcohol which is approximately the same as whiskey sour. Although it has 2.25 oz alcohol, cherry liqueur and vermouth are significantly low in alcohol content.

Bottom Line

If you are in the mood for a scotch cocktail, you should consider the Blood and Sand Cocktail. As with the film's storyline, the Blood and Sand Cocktail features an elegant serve with some sting in its tail. Therefore, summon your inner Valentino, light the fire, get a cozy sweater and enjoy your weekend with a Blood and Sand Cocktail.

Lily Wordsmith

Written by Lily Wordsmith

Lily Wordsmith is a freelance writer who has had a love affair with the written word for decades. You can find her writing blog posts and articles while sitting under a tree at the local park watching her kids play, or typing away on her tablet in line at the DMV. In addition to her freelance career, she is pursuing ebook writing with an ever-growing repertoire of witty ebooks to her name. Her diversity is boundless, and she has written about everything from astrobotany to zookeepers. Her real passions are her family, baking desserts and all things luxe.

Read more posts by Lily Wordsmith

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