I've talked about the classic Blood and Sand cocktail before, but to recap, it was made for the celebration of the screening of the Rudolph Valentino movie of the same name in 1922. Equal parts Scotch, Sweet Vermouth, Cherry Herring and orange juice- a seemingly preposterous combination that ends up working perfectly, balanced sweet and sour, with smoke and heat from the whisky.
Legendary social media maven, Rebecca Jane Millette has brought it forward- I have been substituting Mezcal (Tequila's counterpart from Oaxaca with smokey character from the smoked pina of the agave plant) for the Scotch and it's quite delicious. So good, in fact, that the menu at Silvertone proudly boasts "Becca's Blood and Sand." This is where the trouble starts: the awesome Nick Korn had also been whipping up a Mezcal version across town at Citizen, and he always has a secret ingredient (or two) up his sleeve. He's also a better bartender than me, damn it. So when challenged, I had to take the bait, although I was nervous to get in the ring with him- I wonder if it's how an aging Ali felt facing a young Leon Spinks. Hell, most of my career I've been popping open High Life and pouring shots of Fernet, but sometimes a seasoned, cagey veteran has a few moves left, a little magic with a bar spoon. Offsite events presents: Blood, Sweat and Sand…ladies and gentlemen, let's get ready to rumble.
We were kindly given the tools to work with: La Puritita Joven Mescal from Piedre Almas, Carpano Antica and Punt e Mes sweet vermouths courtesy of Fernet Branca. Our big differences were proportions and the cherry brandy, or in this case, substitutions we used. I picked Maurin, a French Quinquina (aperitif) that has loads of cherry, and Nick being a superstar made his own Croatian wine (vinified from cherries) reduction- I was in trouble. The crowd was there, scorecards held by four judges with categories like "moxie" and "pluck"- Blood and Sands began to flow.
.75 oz La Puritita
.75 oz Maurin
.75 oz Carpano Antica
.75 oz orange juice
Luxardo cherry garnish
1.5 oz La Puritita
.5 oz homemade cherry reduction
.5 oz Punt e Mes
.5 oz orange juice
flamed orange peel garninsh
With the Rocky theme song "Gonna Fly Now" in my ears, I relied on the classic equal proportions, which makes the drink a bit sweeter than Nick's (he's more "Eye of the Tiger"); of course it all really comes down to personal preference. Both were delicious, one could tell by the amount of people trying each a second time. As a friend pointed out, how often do you see people two-fisting Blood and Sands? Apparently when there's a fight. With the scorecards tallied, MC John Nugent declared me a winner by a mere point. One point.
I guess and old guy can still pull it out every once in a while.
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