2oz VSOP Cognac
.25oz Lemon Juice
.25oz Simple Syrup
.25oz Angostura Bitters
Add the cognac, cointreau, lemon juice, simple syrup and bitters to a shaker glass. Add ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Sweet and bitter with hints of lemon and orange, this Angostura heavy concoction is a certainly worth a try. Much less of a sour, the Alabazam is more savory and bitter (you read correctly, the recipe really calls for a lot of Angostura). Heavier and bitter with a long spiced finish, this one is better for colder weather or as an after dinner digestif.
The Criterion Bar still operates and even features a selection of cocktails from Engel’s book.
The earliest known reference to Alabazam is in Leo Engel’s American and Other Drinks (1878). Engel was head bartender at the Criterion Bar in London. Other books around this time, such as William Schmidt’s, The Flowing Bowl, When and What to Drink: Full Instructions How to Prepare, Mix and Serve Beverages (1891), although this recipe leaves out the bitters but adds seltzer.
Some folks consider Alabazam to be a variation of the Sidecar, which is not unreasonable given that both cocktails have essentially the same ingredients but in different ratios. Interestingly, Alabazam was actually created long before the first reported recipes for the Sidecar (1916).
Another cocktail some may know, Sawyer, also features a hefty dose of bitters and will be featured soon.
This is one of a very few cocktails I have seen to feature such a large amount of bitters and is definitely worth a try, especially if you are in the mood for something a little different.