Cherry Heering Blood and Sans on

“Thursday, Aug. 19, 1926, Rudolph Valentino lay in a New York hospital bed under the misapprehension that he was going to live. His emergency surgery for appendicitis and gastric ulcers had been a close-run thing. But resting comfortably before the peritonitis set in, Valentino took questions from the press. Asked his “favorite screen character among the parts you played,” the actor did not name the Sheik. “The part I like best was my role in ‘Blood and Sand,’ ” he said. “If I had died, I would have liked to be remembered as an actor by that role — I think it my greatest.” The poor fellow did die a few days later and, alas, is now remembered as the Sheik, not as the bullfighter of “Blood and Sand.” Not only has that role been largely forgotten, but so has the strange but delicious cocktail the film inspired.”
– Eric Felten, Wall Street Journal
The Blood and Sand has become a bit of a passion for myself (Daniel Dufek, Hi Hat) and #sweetpete78 (#Balzacwinebar). I make it for him nearly every time I’m behind the bar and he’s on the other side. We’ve come up with a variation, unofficially called the “Afghani Doorkicker,” along with various other unnamed versions. For me, the original was and still is a revelatory drink. A combination of ingredients that shouldn’t work together but do; a reminder to never stop experimenting behind the bar, and a reassurance that it’s okay to sometimes throw out the strictures in my head about proportions and what should and shouldn’t lie together in a mixing glass.
I like mine this way:
1 oz blended scotch (Famous Grouse or Dewar’s)
.75 oz Cherry Heering
.75 oz Sweet Vermouth (don’t skimp on the vermouth. it can easily ruin a great drink)
1 oz fresh-squeezed orange juice
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 lemon zest and peel for garnish
The “Afghani Doorkicker” is the same proportions but with Laphroaig 10 substituted for the blended scotch, and 1/4 oz of the Cherry Heering swapped out for Cynar, a bitter Italian liqueur, not unlike Campari, but distilled from artichokes. The Laphroaig gives a peaty smokiness that kicks in right away (hence the name), and the Cynar tames the overall sweetness of the drink, triggering the bitter taste receptors, making for a longer finish.
Ask me about either version the next time you’re in, and we can wax philosophical about scotch in cocktails and Rudy Valentino. Or I can just shut up and let you enjoy your drink.

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