I love Jazz. The infinite improvisations on time tested melodies that provide inroads into the inner reaches of a musician’s soul. I can endlessly listen to fifty artists put their signature on a classic piece and never grow tired. So too is the art of the cocktail. While I wax poetic about the importance of the exactitude of the classic cocktail, I also revel in the endless riffs that are played on these important tomes.

My curiosity is always peeked by the mixing of strange bedfellows. Scotch Whisky-based cocktails are always challenging and I have done my best over the years to showcase the best of the lot. A while back, one of these classic gems was The Blood and Sand, a Scotch Whisky-based cocktail from the 1920’s that featured orange juice and Cherry Heering in a pleasing salute to Rudolph Valentino.

Imagine my pleasure when I stumbled upon a modern classic by Marco Dionysos, which is clearly a riff on the Blood & Sand – The Cunningham. Offering the perfect example of how mixologists refine a classic, the Cunningham takes the Blood & Sand and moves it to a more ephemeral plane. The addition of blood orange juice and Bénédictine brings an earthy, edgy feel to the cocktail. Truly refreshing, the Cunningham may become my new favorite transitional cocktail…

Ladies and Gentlemen, The Cunningham:

1.5 oz The Famous Grouse Scotch Whisky

.5 oz Fresh lemon juice

.5 oz Fresh blood orange juice

.25 oz Bénédictine

.25 oz Cherry Heering

Garnish: Brandied cherries and a flamed blood orange twist

Add all the ingredients to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with brandied cherries and a flamed blood orange twist.