Saturday, April 11, 2009

sand and blood

This month's Mixology Monday theme, "Superior Twists" (MxMo XXXVIII), was chosen by Tristan Stephenson from The Wild Drink Blog. Tristan gave the description as, "This month's Mixology Monday is all about twists on classic cocktails, that for one reason or another do an even better job than the drinks upon which they are based. This could be as simple as a classic Margarita with a dash with a special touch that completes it, or maybe as complicated as a deconstructed Hemingway Daiquiri with a homemade rum foam/caviar/jus/trifle. It might be taking a classic like a Manhattan and using Tequila instead of Bourbon?"

When I gave this theme a little thought, some of the variations that popped into my head were from Max Toste of Deep Ellum (Allston, MA). None of them were extreme, but he definitely puts his own touches on classic recipes. One in particular was the Blood and Sand variation he did where he supplemented the Cherry Heering with a muddled Luxardo Marasca Cherry, replaced the orange juice with muddled orange slices and orange bitters, and adjusted the ratios to be more Scotch forward. For mine, I wondered if we messed with the juice versus liqueur identities by swapping the Cherry Heering liqueur and orange juice for cherry juice and Cointreau -- a drink I dubbed the Sand and Blood (*). Moreover, it would allow me to have one the old school equal parts way that my friend Dan insisted that I give a try to once; I did so for him and for comparison's sake as well.
Blood and Sand
3/4 oz Scotch (Famous Grouse)
3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
3/4 oz Cherry Brandy (Cherry Heering)
3/4 oz Orange Juice (Freshly Squeezed)

Sand and Blood
3/4 oz Scotch (Famous Grouse)
3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
3/4 oz Cherry Juice (Unsweetened)
3/4 oz Orange Liqueur (Cointreau)

Shake well with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange wedge.

Blood & Sand (left) and Sand & Blood (right)

The twist was rather good! It was not as sweet as the original and had a slight bit more of a sharp edge to it. The Scotch was more pronounced in the variant, whereas the original was more fruit dominant. In addition, the respective liqueurs shone through with the twist's Cointreau standing out and the cherry flavors in the original hogging more of the limelight. Both Andrea and I preferred the variant to the original although she was more definite about it than I was (and she has had a few more Blood and Sands around town than I have). The original was smoother, sweeter, and easier to drink perhaps from the orange juice; however, it was less intriguing and lacked the complexity on the swallow that the variant had.

(*) Perhaps a better name would have been the Bloody Valentino, to pay homage to the actor Rudolph Valentino who starred in the 1922 movie Blood and Sand for which the drink is named after. Or My Bloody Valentino for you indie rock fans.

Postscript: Please read the round up of the other MxMo posts from this month's theme!


Craig said...

Hey Fred,

I got this Italian blood orange soda from Trader Joe's, and was thinking of doing a "blood and sand" cooler - maybe like 1 oz. each of whisky, heering, and vermouth topped of with soda. I'll let you know how well it turns out.

frederic said...

If it's carbonated fruit juice, it might due the drink well by drying it out. Sounds interesting!

Craig said...

Not sure what the ingredients are, but I've had their grapefruit soda and it's pretty flavorful and dry, and did pretty well as a mixer for scotch 'n soda. Scotch cocktails can be pretty intense, so I thought the richness of the vermouth and heering, plus the refreshing quality of the carbonated beverage might make a nice summertime drink... I'm trying to clear out my crowded liquor shelf and I need to kill a bottle of blended scotch!