This drink was named for Rudolph, but probably not the one you’re thinking of this time of year. Rudolph Valentino was the star of Blood and Sand, a silent movie released in 1922 about a Spanish bullfighter who rises to fame but is destroyed by his passion for two different women. It’s not a great holiday tale.
The drink Blood and Sand was probably named after the movie, as the first time we see the recipe in a book is in the Savoy Cocktail Book from 1930.
Reading the recipe, the drink sounds terrible: scotch, vermouth, orange juice, and cherry liqueur? No person in their right mind would try it- unless they were advised to.
Take my advice- this drink is absolutely delicious, one of my very favorite classic cocktails. It is quite amazing how these ingredients all work together, and an amazing coincidence that they work in equal proportions. The orange juice and cherry liqueur (Cherry Heering is the most commonly used brand and probably the best for this drink) make the drink juicy. Sweet vermouth gives it some depth, and scotch adds structure.
Speaking of scotch, a soft-tasting single-malt (for example, Glenmorangie, Auchentoshan, or The Glenlivet) works better than a blended scotch (Chivas, Johnnie Walker, Dewar’s) in this cocktail. That said, you can also get away with using a robust Islay scotch like Bowmore, Laphroaig, or Ardbeg if you want to add the flavor of smoke to your holiday cocktail.
Rudolph wouldn’t mind.
Blood and Sand
1 fl. oz. Scotch Whisky
1 fl. oz. Cherry Heering liqueur
1 fl. oz. Orange Juice
1 fl. oz. Sweet Vermouth
Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Orange peel garnish is optional.