Saturday, November 16, 2013


It seems I had an “adventure in fun” the other night (see above).  I went to the happy hour at the Dresden, here in Los Feliz, and drank a couple of very generous Blood and Sand cocktails.  It is one of the Dresden’s (as they say) signature drinks, and there used to be some debate about whether or not they invented it. 

All the evidence suggests they couldn’t have.  The cocktail was apparently invented in celebration of the Valentino movie of the same name, released in 1922, (and it remains the only Valentino movie I have ever seen), and the recipe first appeared in print in the 1930 edition of the Savoy Cocktail Book, and since the Dresden didn’t open till 1954 … well, you get the idea.  On the other hand the Dresden have made it their own. Recipes and quantities vary a little but Scotch, cherry brandy, sweet vermouth 
and orange juice are always involved.  Most recipes suggest serving it strained in a coup glass, thus:

But the Dresden serves theirs over crushed ice, which I prefer, and here’s one I drank earlier:

The Loved One arrived as I was halfway through my second Blood and Sand, and demanded to know “What’s that girly drink you’ve got there?”  Yes, she knows how to wound, and if I' been going to defend myself (and I didn’t because I was too proud) I’d have said that it looks a good deal more girly than it tastes.

So anyway, the very next day I was reading the London Review of Books, and there’s (a frankly rather annoying, narcissistic – but maybe it’s a literary pose) article by Andrew O’Hagan about his various encounters with Norman Mailer.  He meets him in a restaurant “Norman knew everybody in the place and he asked for a kind of vodka punch.  He always drank horrible drinks: at one point, back at his house, he asked me to make him a rum and grapefruit and another time he asked for a red wine and orange juice.”

I guess that red wine and orange juice would have looked a bit bloody and sandy, and I suppose it’s vaguely on the way to being Sangria, but as it stands, I’m with O’Hagan in thinking it probably tasted horribly bad.

I'd have thought that people used to drink a lot more wine cocktails than they do now, but I found a website named, that lists well over two hundred wine cocktails (quite a few of them involving champagne of course), but 42 of them featuring red wine.  One caught my attention because of the name - Diablo’s Blood: I thought that too might look bloody and sandy, but no, it’s made with (wait for it)  equal quantities of chilled red wine and Coca Cola.  Lord, lord.

We know that tough guys, per the title of Norman Mailer’s novel, don’t dance, and I’m pretty sure they don’t consume girly cocktails. Mailer was tough enough in certain ways, so I guess at least one tough guy drank red wine and orange juice, but red wine and coke – no, just no.     (But see comments below!)


  1. Red win and coke is actually a not uncommon drink in spain!
    I asked one of the chefs at a tapas place in Atlanta what wine they used for their braised lamb based on it as a sauce. He said "In the restaurant we use the house red, in Spain you use the cheapest shit you can find, so long as it's red." Certainly a party drink.

    1. I stand corrected re Kalimotxo - "an icon of Basque culture indeed" - And yes, I'm sure it's all culturally specific. As an adolescent, at parties, I sometimes mixed British sherry with the British equivalent of 7Up - and I did live to tell the tale, but it never caught on as a cultural icon.