10 December 2010

Benito vs. the Cocktail: The Alamagoozlum

The other day I was nosing through my copy of Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails: From the Alamagoozlum to the Zombie 100 Rediscovered Recipes and the Stories Behind Them by Ted Haigh, a.k.a. Dr. Cocktail. I wanted to try something different, something that might take advantage of the various odd bits and ingredients I've accumulated over the years. At some point you stare at that bottle of obscure liqueur and wonder if it will ever get finished. After flipping around at random, I decided to start at the beginning, and realized that I had everything necessary to make the first one listed: The Alamagoozlum.

Haigh credits the recipe to The Gentleman's Companion written by Charles H. Baker, Jr. in 1939. Baker gave this cocktail the full name of "J. Pierpont Morgan's Alamagoozlum: the Personal Mix Credited to that Financier, Philanthropist, & Banker of a Bygone Era."

The Alamagoozlum
½ Egg White
2 oz. Gin
2 oz. Water
1½ oz. Rum
1½ oz. Green Chartreuse
1½ oz. Simple Syrup
½ oz. Orange CuraƧao
½ oz. Angostura Bitters

Combine everything with ice and shake it, shake it, shake it like a Polaroid picture. As with any egg white-based cocktail, it takes a lot of effort, and generally you know you're getting there when the tinkle of ice hitting metal turns into a dull thud, meaning that the contents have become one thick, foamy mass. This is very strong, and will serve two or three, but I'd recommend splitting it among even more. The flavor is interesting, but it's not something that you can drink much of, and given the long list of ingredients, you might as well share it with several people. On top of that, egg white cocktails tend to get sort of nasty as they warm up, and this one is so strong that it's difficult to finish a normal serving before it becomes funky.

It ends up tasting like a chocolate soda, which is amusing as it contains no chocolate. The dominant flavors are provided by the Chartreuse and the solid half ounce of bitters. As most of you know, I love bitters, but only a few drops at a time. This quantity provides a stinging, almost medicinal bite to the cocktail. I can't exactly recommend it unless you're just curious or enjoy saying the word "Alamagoozlum!" out loud. There's too much going on, and I can't imagine how many of these you'd have to drink before developing a taste for it. And then you're stuck with loving a cocktail that very few friends or bartenders would be willing to make for you or join you in consuming.

P.S. It is the most unusual shade of burnt siena, a color I've never had the chance to use as a descriptor since first getting a 64 box of crayons as a kid. Thanks, Crayola!


fredric koeppel said...

rhymes with Jerusalem?

Benito said...


I think regardless of the exact pronunciation, the name should be said with a flourish and pulling a dove out of your jacket or turning a cane into a bouquet of flowers.


Jean Tournier said...

Nice cocktail recipe, I really need to try this one!
Thanks for the good blog posts, as always!

Benito said...


It's definitely something different--let me know if you try it!


Parker said...

“J. Pierpont Morgan, the first, joined The Union League Club in 1873 and served a term on the Executive Committee. He is remembered for his creation of a gigantic loan of gold to the Government in the crisis of 1895 – and for the mysterious “Morgan’s Mazoozulum Cocktail.” Only Morgan knew the whole secret of its concoction. The Union League Club bartender was permitted to mix the basic ingredients. Then he turned his back while the inventor applied the finishing touches “…those who have tasted this ambrosia compare its flavor to the first caress of a young love and its effect to the wallop of an Old Man Kangaroo,” says Will Irwin reverently. In later years Morgan gravitated more toward the Metropolitan Club but he remained a Union League member until his death in 1913. The secret of the Mazoozulum died with him.” – Balmer, Edwin. Highlights of History1863-1963. New York: The Union League Club, 1963. (based largely on Irwin, Will and Earl Chapin May & Joseph Hotchkiss. The History of The Union League Club of New York. Dodd, Mead and Company, 1952.)