“I didn’t realize how gross it was going to be,” confessed Nandini Khaund, one of the bartenders behind the app Craft Cocktail and blog craftcocktailrules.com. Challenged by Kristin Wolfel of the Charleston to make a drink with pig’s blood, Khaund was initially unfazed—she’s an omnivore who has no problem with blood sausage and the like. Her source for raw pig’s blood was a charcuterie-making friend of hers, Rootstock chef Mike Simmons, and she’d arranged for our video shoot to take place at a West Loop salumeria, where she enlisted one of the butchers as an assistant. But then it came time to actually drink the pig’s blood. A bartender has to know her ingredients, after all.
“At first it just tasted like blood,” Khaund said. “Then the finish started kicking in,” and the taste grew smoky, then more and more rich, then gamy, until “by the end it just tasted like this iron death. It was really intense, and it went for like a half hour.” She found that drinking the blood affected her physically too—”my heart was racing.”
Such a potent force requires a powerful counteragent, but rather than take the spicy, savory route—a Bloody Mary would of course be the obvious choice—Khaund chose to go sweet. “I think dark chocolate goes with iron and those flavors,” she said, so she decided on a strong, fruity, chocolaty riff on the Blood & Sand, a Prohibition-era cocktail made with scotch, cherry brandy or Heering cherry liqueur, orange juice, and sweet vermouth.
Pig’s Nose, her choice of scotch, was right in keeping with the porcine theme. To add the chocolaty notes she sought, Khaund drew on creme de cacao and La Colombe’s Pure Black cold-pressed coffee, which she felt also complements the blood’s metallic taste. The drink’s fruity element came in the form of Combier Roi René Rouge cherry liqueur and—what else?—blood orange juice. To further accentuate the chocolaty coffee flavors, she used the Sicilian amaro Averna in place of sweet vermouth. Finally, she gave her serving vessel a pig’s blood rinse, pouring a bit of it into her chalice and rotating the glass to coat its interior.
What to call this dark, heavy, blood-red drink made with an ingredient that tastes like iron death? Khaund, who plays keyboards in the please-don’t-call-us-metal septet Bloodiest, didn’t have to think long. Back in 1986 the thrash band Slayer, the “fastest, heaviest, most evil band on the planet,” according to the Reader’s Luca Cimarusti, made its major-label debut with Reign in Blood.
Reign in Blood
3/4 oz blood orange juice
3/4 oz Combier Roi René Rouge cherry liqueur
1/2 oz creme de cacao
1/4 oz Averna amaro
1 oz La Colombe Pure Black cold-pressed coffee
1 1/2 oz Pig’s Nose Scotch
1/8 oz pig’s blood, for the rinse
Combine all ingredients up to the pig’s blood in a mixing glass. Add ice and stir. Then rinse the glass: pour the pig’s blood into a chalice, tip it, and turn it, coating the interior. Pour off any excess blood and strain the drink into the prepared vessel.
Khaund has challenged Sean Patrick Riley of the Burlington (and of Bloodiest) to make a drink with dandelion.