Nelson's Blood Cocktail Recipe

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Nelson's Blood Nutrition Facts






Created by

Nic Polotnianko

I fell in love with the art of mixology 6 years ago. Since then, I've honed my skills, crafting a myriad of cocktail recipes, and sharing my passion with other enthusiasts.

Last Updated: January 7, 2024


Nelson's Blood cocktail is named after Admiral Lord Nelson, a British naval hero who died during the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. After his death, his body was preserved in a barrel of brandy to be transported back to England. It is said that sailors on the ship would sneak sips of the brandy, thus the name 'Nelson's Blood'. This cocktail is popular among history buffs and those who enjoy a strong, flavorful drink.

How Nelson's Blood Tastes?

Nelson's Blood cocktail has a rich, bold, and complex taste. It is both sweet and slightly bitter, with a strong presence of dark, aged spirits. The cocktail is warming and full-bodied, with a smooth finish.

Interesting facts about Nelson's Blood

  • The name 'Nelson's Blood' comes from the story of Admiral Lord Nelson's body being preserved in a barrel of brandy.
  • The cocktail is often enjoyed by history enthusiasts and those who appreciate strong, aged spirits.
  • Some variations of the recipe include the addition of spices or citrus to add complexity to the flavor profile.


Aged Rum

The Aged Rum is the backbone of this cocktail, providing a deep, rich flavor with notes of vanilla and caramel. Using 2oz ensures the rum isn't overpowered by the sweetness of the other components. Less rum, and you'll miss the boat on the full-bodied taste; too much, and you'll be swimming in a sea of booze!

Alex Green

Tawny Port

Tawny Port streams in with its smooth, nutty flavor that anchors the cocktail with a velvety sweetness. At 1oz, it's just the right compass to navigate the drink towards a balanced harmony. With no port, the cocktail would lack its rounded complexity; think of it as your trusty deckhand.

Emma Rose


A small crow's nest of 0.5oz Cointreau brings a bright citrus kick. It's the zesty breeze that cuts through the richer flavors, just right to keep things afloat without overwhelming the senses. Skip this, and you'll be adrift without that hint of orange essence.

Mary Mitkina

Angostura Bitters

A couple of dashes of Angostura Bitters can be thought of as the spice in the cocktail's cannon. They provide a certain 'je ne sais quoi,' tying together all the flavors and adding a layer of complexity. Omit these, and the drink might become somewhat one-dimensional.

Alex Green

Orange Peel

Finally, the Orange Peel garnish adds an aromatic zing as its oils are expressed over the cocktail. It's the flag on the mast that signals the drink is ready to set sail. Miss this detail, and the drink's aromatic journey would not reach its full destination.

Emma Rose

Recipe. How to make Nelson's Blood Drink

  1. In a mixing glass, combine the aged rum, tawny port, Cointreau, and Angostura bitters.
  2. Fill the mixing glass with ice and stir until well chilled.
  3. Strain the mixture into a chilled old-fashioned glass filled with a large ice cube.
  4. Express the orange peel over the cocktail, then discard or use as garnish.

Pro Tips

  • Aged Rum: The older the rum, the richer the flavor. Try to use a rum that's been aged for at least 12 years.
  • Stirring: Stir the cocktail gently to avoid diluting the drink too much.
  • Orange Peel: When expressing the orange peel, make sure to do it over the glass to capture all the essential oils.

Perfect Pairings


Rich and creamy cheeses such as Brie or Camembert can complement the sweetness of the Tawny Port and the robust nature of aged rum.

Chocolate Desserts

Dark chocolate or chocolate-based desserts bring out the citrus notes in the Cointreau and contrast nicely with the warm spices from the Angostura bitters.

Grilled Meats

Grilled or smoked meats, especially those with a sweet or spicy glaze, pair well with the complex sweetness and spiciness of Nelson's Blood cocktail.

Nut-Based Desserts

Desserts like pecan pie or almond tart mirror the nutty undertones of Tawny Port and add depth to the aged rum.

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What you could change in Nelson's Blood

  • Aged Rum: If you don't have aged rum, you can use bourbon or brandy.
  • Tawny Port: A good substitute for tawny port is Madeira or a sweet sherry.
  • Cointreau: If you don't have Cointreau, you can use any other orange liqueur like Grand Marnier or Triple Sec.

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And of course - twists🍹

Nelson's Blood with a Bourbon Twist

Ingredients: 2oz Bourbon, 1oz Tawny Port, 0.5oz Cointreau, 2 dashes Angostura Bitters, Orange Peel Recipe: Replace the aged rum with bourbon for a Southern twist. Expect a more robust, oaky edge with an American spirit. Yarrr, it's like swinging yer hammock in a Kentucky port!

Spiced Nelson's Blood

Ingredients: 2oz Spiced Rum, 1oz Tawny Port, 0.5oz Grand Marnier, 2 dashes of Angostura Bitters, Orange Peel Recipe: Swap out the Cointreau for Grand Marnier and the aged rum for spiced rum to set sail on a spicier sea adventure. The cocktail becomes a treasure chest of spices with a French flair!

The Green Pirate

Ingredients: 2oz Aged Rum, 1oz Green Chartreuse, 0.5oz Triple Sec, 2 dashes Angostura Bitters, Orange Peel Recipe: Ahoy, matey! Replace tawny port with green Chartreuse and Cointreau with triple sec for a herbal and slightly less sweet voyage. This twist turns the helm towards an enchanted isle of herbal mysteries.

In case you forgot basics how to make Nelson's Blood

Place your chosen strainer on top of the shaker or mixing glass, ensuring a secure fit. Pour the cocktail into a glass through the strainer, which will catch solid ingredients and ice. If double straining, hold the fine mesh strainer between the shaker and the glass.

Learn everything on how to strain

Insert the spoon into the glass until it touches the bottom. Keep the back of the spoon against the inside wall of the glass, and stir in a smooth, circular motion. The goal is to swirl the ice and ingredients together without churning or splashing.

Learn everything on how to stir

Garnishing a bar drink depends on the type of garnish and the cocktail. Generally, it involves preparing the garnish (like cutting a citrus wheel or picking a sprig of mint), and then adding it to the drink in a visually appealing way (like perching it on the rim or floating it on top).

Learn everything on garnishing

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Frequently Asked Questions on Nelson's Blood

What type of glassware is traditionally used when serving a Nelson's Blood cocktail?

It is traditionally served in an old-fashioned glass, but you can also use any short tumbler.

What are some potential garnishes for a Nelson's Blood cocktail?

Aside from the traditional orange peel, you can also experiment with adding a cherry or a slice of orange for added visual appeal and a subtle change in flavor.

What are the ideal serving conditions for the Nelson's Blood cocktail?

The cocktail is ideally served chilled, but not over-diluted. It is also best enjoyed in a quiet, relaxed setting to fully appreciate the complex flavors.

Can you recommend any food pairings for Nelson's Blood?

As a rich and robust cocktail, it pairs well with hearty foods like cheese and charcuterie, or desserts like dark chocolate or fruit tarts.

How strong is a Nelson's Blood cocktail?

With both rum and port, it's quite potent. It's intended to be sipped and savored, not downed quickly.

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