Thursday, April 14, 2011


1 tsp Angostura Bitters (1/6 oz)
2 tsp Orange Curaçao (1/3 oz Senior Curaçao)
1 tsp White Sugar
1 tsp Lemon Juice (1/6 oz)
1/2 wineglass Brandy (1 oz Martell VS)

Stir juice and sugar until all dissolved. Add rest of ingredients and ice, shake, and strain into a claret glass.

On Friday night, I spotted the Alabazam in Leo Engel's American and Other Drinks from 1878, and the addition of a teaspoon of Angostura Bitters to what otherwise could be a Sidecar (despite the Sidecar recipe being published a few decades later in 1922) seemed like something I ought to try. In the notes added in the reprint of Louis Fouquet's Bariana, Charles Vextant provided the tidbit that the Alabazam was "one of his [Leo Engel's] specialties made at the Criterion in London." Most later recipes for the Alabazam, such as the one in The Flowing Bowl were less interesting to me for they decreased the Angostura to a dash or two which would never have gained my notice except for having a similar name to another Angostura-heavy drink, the Alamagoozlum.
The Alabazam's aroma was mainly the citrus notes from the lemon juice and orange liqueur with hints of Angostura's spice poking through. While the first taste was a dry citrus sip, later sips were increasingly muddled due to the Angostura Bitters affecting the palate most notably with a cherry-like flavor. The swallow though contained the brandy and Angostura spice with a lingering clove, allspice, and cinnamony finish. Given the decreased ratio of juice and liqueur to brandy, the drink reminded me more of the Brandy Crusta than the Sidecar (unless David Embury was my bartender). With the Crusta's creation in 1852 and inclusion of bitters, the Alabazam being an extreme (sugared-rim- and lemon peel-less but bitters heavy) Crusta might be more accurate.

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