This simple cocktail with a strange name is charming in a girl-next-door kind of way. The ingredients are accessible and humble, but if I’m going to be perfectly honest, I want to dress them up a bit. The foremost tasting note is juicy, not surprising given that it contains orange, lemon, and cherry. And juicy can be fun – it’s certainly an easy sell – but in this instance it reads as one-note. Cherry Heering has a beautiful nutty tone, which could be enhanced with the addition of bitters. Moreover the gin could easily be swapped out for a bolder base-spirit – rye jumps to mind as it is spicy and decidedly not sweet.
But that’s not the game we play here. We make the cocktails as faithfully as possible and evaluate them as such. That this drink is a great base recipe open to modification is simply this girl’s opinion. As written, the cocktail would make a nice addition to a brunch menu, or would be lovely sipped on a patio near the beach. But is it memorable enough to warrant inclusion in this book?
D, rarely a fan of juicy bevvies, finds The Communist to be acidic. He declares, “If I was trying to fight off scurvy this would be easy drinking!” He also notes that the portion size is small and suggests making a recipe and a half to fill a cocktail glass.
One does wonder at the name of this drink. Unfortunately Haigh offers little in the way of information, offering only that the original recipe first appeared in the 1933 cocktail pamphlet, Cocktail Parade. Haigh’s lack of elaboration, combined with the uninspired results of the recipe, leave us feeling that this drink was included simply to fill a page. No offense to the girl next door, but when it comes to cocktails, vixens only need apply.
The Communist Ingedients
Blood and Sand
This is a familiar cocktail to us, especially to D. Along with the Rusty Nail it is one of only a handful of well known scotch cocktails, and certainly among the first suggested by bartenders when D requests a scotch-based bevvy. Until recently this drink was impossible to make in this province (correctly at least), but we revel in the recent arrival of Cherry Heering on our liquor store shelves. Cherry Heering is a syrupy liqueur with a deep burgundy hue and a finish reminiscent of sherry.
We once had this cocktail mixed erroneously with maraschino, an interesting substitution that I liked – largely because it was a much more pleasing color than the original, but D was not a fan. In retrospect the maraschino overpowered the scotch, whereas the Heering rounds out the base spirit, highlighting the spicy notes while muting any harshness.
Ted Haigh notes that the Blood and Sand is named after a film of the same title, though it’s easy to imagine that the moniker is a result of its murky rusty hue. But while the color may leave something to be desired this libation is a classic for a reason. It is a workshop in balance: sweet but boozy, citrusy but not overly so, smooth and quaffable even for the scotch novice. I prompted D for some tasting notes. “I like it!” says D. “Why?” says me. “It has scotch in it. I like scotch.” “And…?” I pressed. “There aren’t a lot of scotch cocktails.” Well there you have it. Give this a shot if only because it is one of a handful of mixed drinks with scotch as a base. Make it again because it is delicious.
Blood and Sand
- 1 ounce scotch (a blend such as Johnny Walker Red works well)
- 1 ounce fresh orange juice
- .75 ounce Cherry Heering
- .75 ounce sweet vermouth
Shake over ice. Strain. Garnish with a cherry.
Blood and Sand Ingredients