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History of the classic Blood and Sand

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1930 | London, United Kingdom

In 1922, the silent film “Blood and Sand,” with Rodolfo Valentino in the leading role, was shot in Hollywood. Like everything touched by the hand of that Italian romantic hero, the film became a legend. 

Later, the story of a matador’s fateful love for a rich widow appeared more than once on screen: in 1941, a remake with Rita Hayworth was released; in 1989, Sharon Stone played the femme fatale; and in 1994, the theatrical idea was used by Madonna in the music video for “Take a Bow.” But the source of inspiration for the cocktail Blood & Sand was that very same original silent version: a fusion of scotch, red vermouth, cherry liqueur, and orange juice was to symbolize the blood-stained sand of the bullfighting arena.

The recipe was first written out in Harry Craddock’s “Savoy Cocktail Book” in the 1930s. The authorship of the cocktail has not been established for certain: the claims by Los Angeles’ Dresden Hotel that the cocktail was first mixed by one of their barmen are unfounded, as the Dresden only opened in the 1950s, and the recipe is at least two decades older.

Apart from the classic recipe with scotch, today there is a version around with single-malt scotch, which gives the cocktail more smoky and iodic notes. And instead of the usual orange, red or “blood” orange can be added to the glass – making the “blood” part of the legend even more visible.

See the recipe


Historian: Vladimir Zhuravlev
Illustration: Mine
Journalists: Sara Davis, Samantha Johnson

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