We were recently asked to make cocktails for a March Madness Party. March Madness is a yearly ritual in the U.S. where people watch the Men’s College Basketball Finals. It does not refer to periodic encephalopathy.
The two teams in the final game were Texas Tech and University of Virginia. We decided to make a Blood and Sand to represent Texas (because that’s what springs to mind when we think of Texas); we went with a Naval-strength Martini for U of Virginia, because their home base is John Paul Jones Arena. UofV Option: A Hindenburg Cocktail, because of the other John Paul Jones who always makes us think of that iconic album cover.
The Blood and Sand is problematic because, as any good cocktailian will tell you, orange juice resolutely kills off the flavour in any cocktail. We were determined to make it work, though. You know, The Original Recipe and all that kind of thing. So we did a little research into possible solutions. It turns out we are not the only ones who have a problem with the OJ in a Blood and Sand. Not by a long shot.
We tried the various methods we found, including the really really vigorous shaking technique (yes, we broke a sweat), incorporating bitters, and other ill-advised ideas. After much trial and mostly error, we finally accepted the hard truth that orange juice just does not provide the balance that its more acidic cousins do.
So we caved. Sort of. We replaced the orange juice with a 3:1 mix of lemon juice and blood orange juice. The acid of the lemon juice provided the balance we so desire. Plus, we think the mix of lemon and blood orange juice is closer in colour to sand than orange juice.
Now for the name. We feel entitled to re-name this cocktail since it’s not the original. We tried riffs on “Blood and Sand”, playing games with “transfusion” in place of “blood.” We discarded these early on. Then we thought, “Since Blood and Sand is named after a bullfighting movie, why not call this cocktail Death in the Afternoon?” Great idea, but it’s taken. Ok, so how about playing on the admittedly gruesome idea of blood and sand, and naming it after a military campaign? El Alamein?
We then realized the whole problem. All these names celebrate conquest - where you have the victor and the vanquished. But we are made from a gentler strain. We prefer to celebrate creativity and collaboration instead of destruction and adversity. We like to build up instead of tear down. In that spirit, we likened the red colours in the drink to a rose. The sand colours transported us to the desert, which is a magical place teeming with life.
We present the “Desert Rose”:
1-1/1 oz un-peated Scotch
1 oz Cheery Heering cheery liqueur
1 oz sweet vermouth
1/4 oz fresh blood orange juice
3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
Shake all ingredients vigorously with ice. Strain into a couple, garnish with a cherry or an orange twist.