Alabazam Cocktail -- The Rituals


ALABAZAM! No it’s not a sequel to Shaquille O’Neal’s groundbreaking genie film Kazaam—it’s our next cocktail. After doing a little research on this drink I am quite intrigued—and not just by the name. Every recipe that I find has the use of a teaspoon of Angostura bitters. That’s a lot of bitters! The last drink I had with a lot of bitters in it was a Pink Gin. Here is the recipe for the original ALABAZAM, which appeared in the cocktail book American and Other Drinks by Leo Engel in 1878.

Use a tumbler.

One teaspoon of Angostura bitters; two tea-spoonfuls orange Curaçao; one tea-spoonful of white sugar; one tea-spoonful of lemon juice; half a wine glass of brandy. Shake up well with fine ice and strain in a claret glass. 

My excitement for a bitters heavy drink wanes quickly when I realize that the ALABAZAM recipe from the Complete World Bartender Guide only asks for one to two dashes—of orange bitters no less!

ALABAZAM (Complete World Bartender Guide version)
2 oz. Cognac (Hennessy)
2 tsp. sugar syrup
1 tbs. curacao (Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao)
1 tsp. lemon juice
1-2 dashes orange bitters (Regans’)

Combine with ice; shake well. Strain and add ice. 

Once again we think this drink is like something we’ve had before—this time the Sidecar. The first reported mention of the Sidecar was in 1916, while two books published in 1922 credit a bartender named MacGarry who worked at Buck’s Club in London. The ALABAZAM is from 1878 so I guess that settles which came first.

We both like this drink better than the Fizz but it still isn’t what we hoped for. This drink brings out the Debbie Downer in Eric, who likes to criticize things for what they are not—rather than analyzing what they are. “It’s not citrusy enough,” he says. “I would not drink this on purpose.” He feels like the curaçao and Cognac are fighting and the curaçao wins.

If time travel were a thing, I’m pretty sure I’d find this drink at a cocktail party my grandparents hosted. I didn’t like the way the Cognac melded with the rest of the drink. I initially rate this drink a 6 but Eric talks me down saying, “A 7 is an endorsement of something you’d drink again. Therefore a 6 is right on the edge. Is this cocktail right on the edge?” It’s wisdom like this that I yearn for and with that I change my initial rating.

SCORES: Brian 6 [revised to a 5.5]. Eric 5 [revised to a 5.5 {revised again to 6, adding back +.5 for the colorful name}]

Brian Christie


Brian Christie envisions a future where all cocktails are made with natural ingredients and love, where hangovers don’t exist, and where everyone wants to experiment, explore, and enjoy life. As a grip/dolly grip, he’s worked on such shows as The O.C., Heroes, Iron Man 2, Gangster Squad, Horrible Bosses 2, Agents of Shield, and most recently Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. When not on set, he can be found traveling the world in search of new experiences and cocktails. His exploits include drinks in Los Angeles, Tokyo, Chicago, Rio de Janeiro, Muskegon, Munich, Boise, Prague, Phoenix, Dublin, San Francisco, Amsterdam, Sydney, and most recently Edinburgh.

Always drink responsibly!