Blood and Sand: An ode to Bullfighter Juan Gallardo

Blood and Sand – now that’s a cocktail name which will make you think twice before ordering one. But far from the perplexing mix of orange juice, Scotch whisky, cherry brandy liqueur and sweet vermouth, the Blood and Sand surprisingly tastes great. The combination of the four mixes is fresh and rich at the same time. Depending on the Scotch used, it can be strong and smoky or easy and light.

The redolent Blood and Sand made its appearance in the early 1900’s and derives its name from the 1922 Rudolph Valentino movie Blood and Sand, portraying the life of bullfighter Juan Gallardo. Its recipe was first recorded in the 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book by Harry Craddock.

There are quite a few simple variations to the Blood and Sand, each adding a distinctive touch of its own. To decrease the acidic flavor of the orange, pink grapefruit juice can be used as an alternative. Some recipes leave out the juice altogether.

A good option to enhance the flavor is to use Italian Vermouth. Islay scotches like Bowmore give the drink a smoky flavor which goes surprisingly well with the orange juice and cherry liqueur. An Ardbeg 10 Year Old also imparts smokiness to the drink.


  • 20ml Scotch whisky
  • 20ml Cherry brandy liqueur
  • 20ml Sweet Vermouth
  • 20ml of freshly squeezed blood orange juice

The Process

In a cocktail shaker, mix 20ml Scotch whisky, 20ml Cherry brandy liqueur, 20ml Sweet Vermouth and 20ml of freshly squeezed blood orange juice. Shake all the ingredients well till you get a good froth on top and a lustrous sheen to the cocktail. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. The concoction can be served with or without ice. Zest the blood orange on top, or alternatively garnish with a maraschino cherry.