I’m kind of obsessed with Mike Flanagan’s Midnight Mass right now. I’ve watched it twice. So when the idea of mixing up a Halloween cocktail for 2021 came up, I knew it had to be tied to the vampire miniseries. The show, which takes place on a tiny island off in the Pacific Northwest, has a lot of small seaside town vibes with dark sandy beaches and more than enough blood driving the plot.
Sandy beaches and blood sacraments? That can only lead to one cocktail, the Blood & Sand.
This is one of those cocktails I’ve only had a handful of times but always remember really digging it. It is a classic after all. The heart of this drink is a non-peated Scotch whisky (I’m using a very lightly peated Scotch whisky, but more on that later), cherry liqueur, sweet vermouth, and fresh orange juice. It’s an easy shaker that has a great, dark look to it. I’m also adding some horns for extra Halloween vibes.
Okay, let’s get into our official 2021 Halloween cocktail!
Blood & Sand
Serves 1, served in a cocktail glass, coupe, or Nick and Nora
- 0.75-oz. low-peat Scotch whisky
- 0.75-oz. sweet vermouth
- 0.75-oz. cherry liqueur
- 0.75-oz. fresh orange juice
- Orange peel
You really don’t want to go full Islay peat monster here. But I’d argue that for the theme of Midnight Mass‘ whole blood and sand vibe on a remote PNW island Talisker is a nice choice. A lot takes place on the beach in that series and nothing really delivers on dark and cold beach vibes as well as the Isle of Skye whisky.
For the cherry liqueur, I’m using a basic local version that costs about $8 for a bottle. Most recipes for this will call for Heerings, which is closer to $30 per bottle. As for the vermouth, I’m using Carpano Antica Formula. The rest is just a nice and ripe orange with some deeply frozen ice cubes.
What You’ll Need:
- Cocktail shaker
- Cocktail strainer
- Fruit juicer
- Fine strainer
- Paring knife
- Fruit peeler
- Pre-chill your cocktail glass in the freezer (preferably overnight).
- Peel about a thumb’s worth of orange peel from the orange. Use the paring knife to trim the rounded edges, making a strip that’s about the length and width of your thumb. Make sure that each end is trimmed at a 45-degree angle. Lastly, cut a half-inch slit down the center of the peel along the horizontal axis.
- Juice the orange.
- In a cocktail shaker, add the scotch, vermouth, cherry liqueur, and sieved orange juice.
- Fill about 2/3 with ice. Shake vigorously for about 30 seconds or until the outside of the shaker is so cold you can barely hold it.
- Grab the glass from the freezer and strain the cocktail into the glass.
- Spritz the orange oils over the cocktail. Bend each of the ends of the peel towards the center of the peel and place it on the rim of the glass, creating little orange horns. Serve.
This is really, really good. I don’t think I’ve ordered one in years and boy — I was missing out! The light notes from the Talisker shine through with a touch of sea salt, berries, a very distant wisp of salty campfire smoke. The sweetness of the cherry liqueur adds both body and depth to the drink. Those sugars really help marry the botanicals of the vermouth to the sharper points of the whisky. The orange adds a great counterpoint while also lightening things up on the palate.
The look of this nails Halloween vibes while also looking like very dark (and cold) blood in a glass. I might have to watch Midnight Mass again while sipping on one of these at the top of each episode. I mean, I have all that cherry liqueur to use up now anyway.