The Thirteen Drinks of Halloween 2020 – Two

Welcome to day two of the Thirteen Drinks of Halloween. Yesterday we explored taking a basic drink, changing an ingredient and giving it a new spooky name. We also frowned upon that, because we are judgmental. Today we are going a different route, taking a drink that has a slightly spooky name and presenting it in the spirit of the season. Please join me now as we stand and make, the classic Blood and Sand.

Unlike the Black Widow, which was most likely born in Blavod’s marketing department, the Blood and Sand is a bona-fide classic cocktail. It first appears in Henry Craddock’s 1930 “The Savoy Cocktail Book”, even though it was, allegedly, created eight years earlier for the Rudolph Valentino bullfighting film of the same name. I haven’t actually seen that one, but I have watched the 1941 remake with Tyrone powers and Rita Hayworth. It’s a pretty standards “rags to riches to rags” story with a healthy dose of hubris thrown in there. You know how it goes, boy wants to become a matador, leaves childhood sweetheart to follow his dream, becomes famous matador, marries sweetheart, becomes more wealthy and famous, spurns sweetheart for newer, shinier model; boy’s pride goeths before his fall, shinier model drops him for a newer shinier model, boy reconciles with childhood sweetheart before boy dies in the ring trying to prove a point no one else cares about. The story, actually reminded me a bit of Pearl S. Buck’s “The Good Earth”, and Wang Lung’s failure to follow the old adage to, “dance with the one who brought you.” It’s a common theme, a good lesson and a pretty decent inspiration for a drink.

This is an equal parts drink, so grab your tins and pop in 3/4 of an ounce each of blended Scotch, I used Dewar’s; sweet vermouth, cherry liqueur, I went with Luxardo and freshly squeezed orange juice. Add ice and shake well to the tune of some spanish flamenco guitar, I went with “El Toro Flamenco“, kinda chosen at random, because flamenco and bulls. Halfway through I realized that this is very similar to Cuba’s famous, “Malagueña“. Which was weird. Turns out they use the same riff, who borrowed from who is a little murky, but either way, it rocks. Now that we have that settled, strain your well chilled beverage into something suitably macabre, such as this awesome double layer skull glass, which photographs way better on websites selling it than it does in real life.

There is a reason that this one is a classic. It’s not perfect, but to rise to the top ten of scotch cocktails, you basically just have to show up. It is not a crowded category. I used a blended scotch here, but I think it may have been more interesting with something smokier, a nice Islay would bring some depth to this one, but it is lovely as is.

I like this kind of Halloween drink, sure the name actually refers to the blood left in the sand of the bullfighting ring, but it definitely has an ominous sound. It is a good drink on it’s own and not just a sand cocktail with grenadine added to make it spooky, which is a thing I hate. I am looking at you “Vampire’s Martini”. I figured that using a real cocktail in a Halloween themed glass might be fun, and it was. In person, this drink is gorgeous, that double walled glass makes it look like the skull is floating there. Unfortunately, that beautiful glass loves to capture reflections and highlights, making it tricky to photograph with the camera phone. So we went with a dramatically backlit thing, to cover the fact that we just couldnt capture the true beauty of the drink itself, thereby blowing out all the details of the skull, but you get the idea. Sometimes, it happens that way. Take this opportunity to finally try the classic drink, even if you don’t have a skull glass to serve it in. Toss this one in a coupe and garnish with an expressed orange peel maybe a tiny blood-stained cape, you’ll be glad you did. Just keep an eye out for the ghosts of long dead matadors and stay safe, stay hydrated and stay spooky, my friends.