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Bitters, Blood and Sand - Four Historic Drink Recipes for the Spring Season

March 28, 2019

With improved weather right around the corner, what better way to celebrate Spring than by sharing a few historical drink recipes with you?  Here are four drink recipes from the 17th, 19th and 20th Centuries that we recently stumbled upon.




Captain Radcliffe’s Punch


This smooth-drinking white wine- and cognac-based punch is based upon a poem by the 17th-century English army captain and courtier, Alexander Radcliffe.


To make this punch, you will need:


4 lemons

1⁄2 cup sugar

1 1⁄2 cups sweet white wine, preferably sauternes

1 (750-ml) bottle of brandy, preferably VSOP cognac

6 cups chilled water

Freshly grated nutmeg


Using a peeler, peel lemons, taking off as little white pith as possible. Transfer peels to a heavy bowl; reserve lemons. Add sugar; use a muddler or a wooden spoon to vigorously crush sugar and peels together until the sugar turns faintly yellow and slushy.


Juice the reserved lemons and add the juice to the bowl along with the peels. Stir until the sugar has dissolved completely. Set a fine-mesh sieve over a punch bowl; strain the lemon and sugar mixture into the punch bowl; discard solids. Stir in the wine and the brandy. Chill. To serve, stir in water and place a large block of ice in the bowl. Garnish with nutmeg.


As with many punches, this one tastes the best when chilled by a single large block of ice instead of fast-melting cubes, which water down the punch too quickly.





Bitters is an infusion of herbs and spices in high proof alcohol. In the early to mid 19th Century bitters was promoted as a health tonic. As a result, many New Englanders started the day with a concoction of spirits, water, sugar and a healthy dose of bitters because it was not only considered socially acceptable, but it was also perceived to be good for you. This particular recipe dates to 1833 and is taken from  David Wondrich’s book Imbibe!: From Absinthe Cocktail to Whiskey Smash.  


1 tsp sugar

2 oz whiskey

3 oz water

4 dashes bitters



Muddle sugar with water until dissolved. Add whiskey and bitters. Stir. Top with grated nutmeg.




Blood and Sand


The Blood and Sand is one of the few Scotch cocktails that should be considered a classic. The complete history is somewhat shaky, but it is accepted that it was inspired by the 1922 movie Blood and Sand.


3/4 ounce Scotch whiskey

3/4 ounce cherry brandy

3/4 ounce sweet vermouth

3/4 ounce orange juice

Orange peel for garnish


Pour the Scotch, brandy, vermouth, and orange juice into a cocktail shaker filled with ice.


Shake well.


Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.


Garnish with an orange peel.




Between the Sheets or The Maiden’s Prayer


This 20th Century cocktail is believed to have been created in the 1920s at Harry's New York Bar in Paris. This hotspot was responsible for inventing several other classic cocktails, including the “French 75” and the “Monkey Gland”.


1 ounce brandy

1 ounce light rum

1 ounce triple sec

1/2 ounce lemon juice

Garnish: lemon twist


Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice.

Shake well.

Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Garnish with the lemon twist.


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