The Bloody Nail – a hybrid of two beloved drinks on

Gary Regan Updated 9:40 am, Tuesday, June 3, 2014

How do people go about creating drinks? Ask 100 bartenders and you’ll likely get 100 answers. Everyone does things differently in this regard.
I usually start out with a tried-and-true formula, switch out one ingredient for another, and give my new drink a new name. It usually works pretty well.
Zachary Nelson from the Continental Room in Fullerton (Orange County) did something similar recently, but instead of reconstructing just one drink, he merged two classics. His Bloody Nail is a mix of a Rusty Nail and a Blood and Sand cocktail. It works well, too.
The Rusty Nail is a simple mix of scotch and Drambuie, a scotch-based liqueur. If you make a Rusty Nail with equal parts of each ingredient, you’ll end up with a pretty sweet concoction that might serve well as an after-dinner drink. But cut back on the liqueur and you can turn the Rusty Nail into a tasty aperitif.

The Blood and Sand, a drink named for the 1922 movie starring Rudolph Valentino, is an unusual mix of ingredients and a little more complicated. It’s equal parts scotch, sweet vermouth, cherry brandy and orange juice. Sounds weird. Tastes fabulous.
Nelson describes how he merged the two drinks.
“I was making a Rusty Nail for a customer, and as I was pouring the Drambuie I looked up at the Cherry Heering and thought I’d give it a shot,” he says.
The Bloody Nail works well as a serious drink for folk who like scotch. And like the Rusty Nail, it can be fiddled with to make it sweeter or drier. It’s one of my go-to cocktails when I’m in the mood for a little scotch whisky.
Bloody Nail

Makes 1 drink
Adapted from a recipe by Zachary Nelson at The Continental Room in Fullerton (Orange County).
2 ounces scotch
1/2 ounce Drambuie
1/2 ounce Cherry Heering
2 dashes orange bitters
1 flamed orange peel, as garnish
Instructions: Place all ingredients, except the garnish, into a mixing glass. Add ice and stir for 20-25 seconds. Strain into an ice-filled old-fashioned glass. Garnish with the flamed orange peel.

Heering at

….Johnnie’s five different blends range from the workmanlike Johnnie Walker Red to the Blue and Gold varieties, both of which rival high-quality single malts in both quality and price. The latter two are definitely sip-worthy; Johnnie Walker Black is an excellent combination of quality and cost, and the one I’d recommend for cocktail recipes. Where White Horse provides a smoky, funky character, Johnnie Black is much more notable for a smooth finish and a scent redolent of maple and citrus, which makes it my choice for a great cocktail recipe that was unduly overlooked for far too long: the Blood and Sand.
Today, the Blood and Sand is a standby of classic-revival mixology; first poured in 1922 (and named after a Rudolph Valentino movie that I am assured was a classic in its own, odd, silent-movie right) and popularized by Harry Craddock’s classic Savoy Cocktail Book, the Blood and Sand then promptly fell into the memory hole of cocktails no one made, largely owing to its bizarre-seeming set of ingredients:
The Blood and Sand
1.5 oz Scotch
1.5 oz orange juice (blood orange if you want to hew closer to the original recipe)
1 oz Heering cherry liqueur (important to use the actual Heering, not a clear kirsch or kirschwasser)
1 oz sweet vermouth
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass and shake with ice; strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a flamed orange zest
Nothing about the Blood and Sand seems like it should work, and yet it, like many of the newly-remembered classics, is much more than the sum of its parts. Particularly with homemade vermouth, the drink packs a wallop of cherry, and the finish rounds things out with a soft hint of citrus and an aromatic, almost afterthought, of Scotch. It really is a great example of cocktail alchemy in action, and it has singlehandedly led me to own approximately three more bottles of cherry Heering in the last year than I did in my previous 30 put together.
The Blood and Sand and the Rob Roy are, for me, the two finest ways to incorporate the Scotch-lover’s spirit with the mixologist’s technique; there are others, like the Rusty Nail (based on Scotch and it’s kissin’-cousin Scotch-and-honey-based liqueur, Drambuie) and the Horse’s Neck (an interesting summer concoction featuring Scotch, ginger ale, and bitters), and, once you’ve embraced the possibility of Scotch as a cocktail component, they’re well worth trying.

Legal Notice   |   Log in to graphic guideline