Most people think of Pour in Lancaster as a wine and beer bar. True.
What’s also true is that Pour “pours” some mighty intriguing cocktails, like the Big Shot
Toddy, Cold White Russian Winter and Calavardier.
The cocktail that caught my eye at Pour was the Blood and Sand, which sounded like something bad that might happen at the beach. A shark attack perhaps?
Still, I was enticed by the name. Then I discovered that the Blood and Sand is one of the few cocktails made with scotch, other than the Rob Roy. That made it all the more beguiling, especially when I learned that the “blood” part was for blood orange.
Let me tell you about blood oranges, which sound like something vampires would like. From the outside a blood orange looks like a regular orange. You have to cut it open to find out where the name comes from. It’s a deep crimson red and the juice does indeed look like blood. It even darkens to a burgundy hue when spilled. The taste, however, is heavenly. Think of fresh squeezed orange juice with a wonderful hint of raspberries. Anyway, I love the flavor of blood oranges.
I am also rather fond of scotch whiskey, must be my Scottish ancestry. I like the smooth smokiness that’s kind of warm and toasty. There is a roundness and sophistication in the flavor. In this case, Lee Noble, manager and chief pourer at Pour, selects Famous Grouse Blended Scotch, which comes of Scotland, of course. It’s aged in European oak sherry casks, which gives it just a hint of sweetness.
So, here we have the two main ingredients of Blood and Sand. But there’s more.
There’s the allure of a cocktail that was inspired by the 1922 movie “Blood and Sand,” which portrayed Latin lover Rudolph Valentino as a passionate Spanish bullfighter. As a boy, he dreams of becoming a famous bullfighter. He is ultimately undone when he falls in love with his childhood sweetheart, who has become a seductive temptress who lures him to his tragic demise. Remember, he’s a bullfighter. There’s blood. There’s sand.
Like the film that inspired it, Blood and Sand has complexity. Besides the blood orange and the scotch, there are three other key ingredients, one with a twist. Heering Cherry Liqueur adds sweetness to the scotch, along with sweet vermouth with its grape, herbs and botanicals. Noble prefers Carpano Antica sweet vermouth.
The twist comes from the flamed orange zest. I watched as Noble deftly shaves orange zest from an orange and flames it inside the cocktail coupe glass. That brings out the aromatics of the orange zest, adding a hint of citrus smokiness.
He measures up the four ingredients, in four equal parts, for approximately 3/4 ounces each of Famous Grouse blended scotch, fresh blood orange juice, Heering cherry liqueur and Carpano Antica sweet vermouth. In a cocktail shaker, they are shaken, not stirred, and poured into the flamed orange zest cocktail glass.
Blood and Sand is sophisticated and complex. With each sip, it seems a little different, first smooth and smoky and citrusy, then elegantly sweet and refreshing. Kind of like that ill-fated bullfighter romance. It’s a deceptively powerful cocktail, with the three kinds of alcohol cloaked in the juice of the luscious blood orange.
Best to enjoy it with a Pour charcuterie board with options like house-made lamb terrine, Spanish chorizo sausage, Dutch Ewephoria sheep’s milk cheese or British Shropshire blue cheese. Perhaps something heartier like beef brisket with a smoky molasses reduction or pan roasted duck breast with cranberry orange jus. Just don’t drink alone.