Looking for a way to burn through that bottle of Angostura bitters purchased for an Old Fashioned? Well, you’re welcome. The Alabazam is a truly old school cocktail from the days when bitters concoctions served as medicinal tonics. Expat Leo Engel takes credit for the drink, dated 1878, well before bitters were relegated to increasingly subservient roles. Accustomed to drinks with one or two dashes, this unusual dose now seems fresh and innovative. We’re drinking backwards, enlivening our palates with a spicy complexity that has been snubbed for too long.
The Alabazam bears resemblance to a Sidecar, but the large dosage of Angostura completely alters the profile. The color changes dramatically, shifting from pale orange to a deep, juicy red. Despite fears of a bitter domination, everything meshes swimmingly. At the nose, its all spice and citrus. Bitters and cognac combine for an earthy balance, spicing up the spirit’s fruitiness and smoothing any bitter tones. For the base, grab a good cognac such as Pierre Ferrand. If no Cointreau is on hand, Curacao is a fine alternative. Shaking all of this Angostura creates a creamy and surprisingly luxurious texture.