Blood and Sand – A Great Halloween Cocktail

labeled blood

Halloween is tomorrow but a lot of parties are happening tonight, tomorrow and even Sunday. If you’re having a party you could serve pumpkin beer or some nasty, overly sweet orange drink to keep with the evil theme or you could make a classic that will keep your guests coming back for more. Last week I made a Merry Widow for Halloween because the cocktail is blood red and has to do with death. Today I decided to make a Blood and Sand because… well because it’s called a Blood & Sand.

The funny thing about this cocktail though, is that it has absolutely nothing to do with the evil holiday. It actually was inspired by a 1922 Rudolph Valentino movie about a bull fighter, and all bull fights have two things in common – the fight takes place in a sandy arena and it always ends in blood. Hence… Blood and Sand. While the movie is from 1922, the first printing of this cocktail didn’t happen until 1930 when it appeared in Harry Craddock’s The Savoy Cocktail Book. I’m not sure however, if Craddock actually created this awesome elixir or how the ingredients were chosen.

close up

Well, that’s not entirely true. Blood is red and sand is usually yellow. Sweet Vermouth and cherry brandy are red while orange juice and scotch when blended together turn a dark yellowish color. Then again, so do a lot of other liquors. Why these particular ones were chosen, I have no idea. I mean, let’s be honest. Scotch, orange juice, cherry brandy and vermouth don’t exactly sound appetizing. In fact, that combination sounds horrendous. I wasn’t at all excited about shaking up this concoction. But it’s been printed in enough retro cocktail books and the title fit the holiday, so I decided to give it a try. You know what? I now understand why this tipple has been printed and reprinted. It’s really good and that of course is because of the ingredients.

As with all cocktails, the key is absolutely in the ingredients. Make sure you use good scotch. While a blended scotch might be your first choice since you’re mixing up a drink, I’d actually recommend a single malt. It just tastes better. As for the orange juice, as with all citrus, you absolutely want to use fresh. DO NOT, under any circumstances, use bottled. Bottled citrus juice, no matter what kind, loses some of its aciditiy the longer it sits on the shelf. In a sweeter cocktail such as this, you want that sharp acidity to balance out the sweetness. It actually gives the drink quite a nice little bite, and nothing is more suitable for Halloween than a cocktail that has bite.

skull in glass

Blood and Sand


  • 3/4 oz. scotch
  • 3/4 oz. sweet vermouth
  • 3/4 oz. orange juice
  • 3/4 oz. cherry brandy


  1. Pour all the ingredients into a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a cocktails glass, garnish with a twist of orange and serve.