Measure & Stir

I make drinks

Blood and Oak


You know what you don’t see often enough? Scotch cocktails. I think they are unpopular because they are generally made with blended scotch whiskey, and blended Scotch whiskey is not compelling. Personally I am not a huge fan of blended Scotches. Even the finer ones taste muddy and indistinct compared to the clarion symphony that is the experience of a quality single malt. I have tasted some small batch vatted malts that were very good, and I am aware that there is an art to blending them, but certainly the common ones are boring and awful.

On the other hand, single malt Scotches are expensive, and mixing them with other ingredients (besides other single malts?) is a kind of sacrilege. The distiller spent ever so much time and care to imbue that scotch with all of its most sublime and subtle qualities. Many recipes do call for small measures of Islay Scotches, I think because they are outside of the mainstream palate, and because their flavors are very bold. Indeed, it is a bold Scotch that can convey its character when it shares space in a glass with other ingredients.

As the season turns colder, I’ve been feeling a longing for the warming embrace of a mixed drink with single malt, and lucky for me, blood oranges are coming into season. Therefore, it is time to make one of the most famous scotch-based drinks, the Blood and Sand. I wanted to modify this drink to highlight the virtues of  one of my favorite single malts, the Balvenie Doublewood, so I re-jiggered it to be more Scotch-centric.

Blood and Oak
2 oz Balvenie Doublewood
1 oz Blood orange juice
.5 oz Drambuie
.25 Sweet Vermouth (Punt e Mes)
dash of orange bitters

In contrast. the proportions for the blood and sand almost seem like they were designed to hide the scotch:

Blood and Sand
1 oz Blended Scotch Whiskey
1 oz Blood Orange Juice
.75 oz Sweet Vermouth
.75 oz Cherry Heering
Shake over ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

I wanted to set it free, so I doubled the proportion of the Scotch, and dropped the liqueur and vermouth substantially. Cherry Heering is an elephant, and it will crush the other flavors in a drink with reckless oblivion. I replaced it with Drambuie, which is made with Scotch whiskey already, which means that it interferes less with the base spirit. I had originally considered cutting the vermouth entirely, but after tasting it pre-vermouth, I knew it needed that hint of bitterness and depth, so I kept it, but I dialed the vermouth down to a quarter ounce, and added orange bitters.

The end result is oaky, with a backend of bitter citrus. I have made this drink in the past using regular orange juice, and it sucks. Blood orange is the only true orange juice for this drink.

5 thoughts on “Blood and Oak

  1. You’re right, it’s almost rare to hear about a cocktail made with it. I can’t say I am a scotch fan, maybe drinking some once every five years or so. And even though you took a great photograph and designed the drink to appetizingly lure your audience…no…that’s it entirely. Your drink looks so good I am going to dust off my bottle way back in the back of the cabinet. To tell you the truth, the Blood and Sand interested me in the past, but not enough to try it with its ingredient proportions. Your Blood and Oak sounds way more balanced, and dare I say better tasting.

  2. Hello Joseph,

    I saw that you recently featured Punt e Mes in a blog post – the post was great! I actually work with Punt e Mes and would like to share your post with my client. Would you be able to provide your audience numbers and blog stats?

    Thank you so much. I look forward to hearing back from you.



    Nita Lim
    The Baddish Group

  3. I am loving the sound of the Blood and Oak! And I wouldn’t worry too much about mixing up single malts on behalf of the distiller’s merits, unless, of course, we’re discussing Ardbeg. They really are not keen on it.

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