The cocktail is arguably named after the ingredient which gives it its color and much of its flavor, but was probably really named to help link the drink with an eponymous movie about bullfighting that came out in 1922. (91 years ago… I know, I know.) It is, as is widely noted, one of the few cocktails out there that involves Scotch. It’s also basically a variant on a Rob Roy, with just a bit of orange juice and cherry brandy altering the mix.
But is it any good? Sure, but that answer is a bit deceptive. I feel like in an attempt to tame and work with the peaty flavor of the Scotch, this goes too far, almost muting it under the twin fruit flavors of the blood orange and the Heering. Scotch is Scotch, and there’s not much we can do to work with it.
A few notes on the cocktail, though, if you will try it: I generally try to stir my martini-like cocktails, but with everything that must come together in this one, I’d suggest shaking — heavily. Everything in this cocktail is a bit of a headstrong flavor, and it could all use a bit of a chill and a splash of water to mellow it out. Also, make sure the Scotch you’re using is blended, and not necessarily that great. A good single-malt would be wasted on this recipe. Honestly, even a particularly good blended Scotch like Chivas would be as well. Think Dewars, J&B, Cutty Sark, Johnny Walker Red — something of that ilk. And the blood orange juice is hard to substitute here, so if you can’t get your hands on any, stick to making a Rob Roy until you find the good stuff. (I’m guessing you’ll have it bottled, because where are you going to find a real blood orange?)
- 1 oz. blended Scotch whisky
- 3/4 oz. sweet vermouth
- 3/4 oz. Cherry Heering
- 1 oz. blood orange juice (probably the juice of 1/2 an orange, if you can somehow find one.)
- Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker over ice, and shake well to combine.
- Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a cherry and, if feeling particularly fancy, a flamed orange peel.