The A-Z Cocktail, on offer at the W Hotel in Times Square, has 26 ingredients.Brian Zak/NY Post
It’s everything but the kitchen drink.
The 90-proof A-Z Cocktail, now on offer at the Times Square W hotel’s Living Room Bar, is one powerful potion. It’s made of 26 different elements, each starting with a different letter of the alphabet (angostura bitters from Trinidad to start, Zoco pacharán liqueur from Spain to finish).
Of the 26 ingredients, only three are nonalcoholic.
The A-Z was invented by London-based, self-proclaimed “culinary mad hatters” Sam Bompas and Harry Parr, who call their company “the leading expert in multi-sensory experience design.” Once, at an “anatomical whiskey tasting,” volunteers took off their clothes “and had fine, aged whiskey licked, sipped and sucked from the natural contours of their bodies by nearly 50 strangers,” according to the Bompas & Parr website.
The A-Z fortunately offers no similar thrill. But it’s an audacious upstart in the city’s baroque-boozing scene — whose proliferating pleasures include a flaming, absinthe-based “saffron sazerac” at Bar Freud, a “flight” of bitters at Amor y Amargo, and CBD-laced everything at Adriaen Block.
The surprising good news: The A-Z tasted a lot better than I thought possible in a drink combining eight rums, six liqueurs, three cognacs and one each of vermouth, mezcal and cachaca.
Such far-flung elements as Guyanese Old Vatted Demerara rum, Britain’s Sipsmith Sloe Gin and France’s good old Grand Marnier yielded a smooth, cohesive cocktail. It tasted like a well-mixed bourbon highball without a drop of bourbon and enough fruit and spice to set it apart. A few sips made me tipsy with no acidic throat burn.
The bad news: It’s $38 for a 2-ounce pour. I can get a fabulous, exotic cocktail three times larger for half the price at scores of other places. Even most of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Aviary’s notoriously pricey elixirs are cheap by comparison; its Science A.F. cocktail, combining scotches and a million fruits, herbs and teas, is just $28 and blended before your eyes in a smoke-spewing, science-fiction-like thingamajig.
The A-Z offers no such spectacle. It’s poured from a pre-blended bottle and served neat or on the rocks. (Neat but chilled is best.) The lounge doesn’t have all the ingredients in stock yet to make it fresh. When they do, you’ll wait up to a half-hour for the mixologists to exactingly combine minute doses of the ingredients (just 0.1 or 0.2 ounces each).
The W people said that no one has yet ordered the A-Z even though it’s been available for two weeks. No wonder, when the lounge’s regular fun cocktails — like Hell’s Kitchen Dark n Stormy, Sunset Park Mule — are potent enough and larger, for just $17.
But there’s a way to get the A-Z for free! Just book one of the W’s Wow and Extreme Wow suites, which when I checked were $1,057 and $1,939 respectively per night. An 8-ounce bottle in the minibar is yours for the taking. No body contact with strangers required.
- 1 dash angostura bitters
- 0.2 oz. Botran Solera rum
- 0.1 oz. Cointreau liqueur
- 0.2 oz. Diplomatico rum
- 0.2 oz. El Dorado 12 Year Old Rum
- 0.2 oz. Frapin cognac
- 0.1 oz. Grand Marnier liqueur
- 0.2 oz. Havana Club añejo rum
- 0.2 oz. Ilegal Mezcal
- 0.2 oz. J.M. Rhum
- 0.1 oz. Kamm & Sons apertif
- 0.2 oz. Louis Royer VSOP cognac
- 0.2 oz. Martell VS cognac
- 0.2 oz. Nine Leaves rum
- 0.2 oz. Old Vatted Demerara rum
- 1/2 tsp. Pimento Dram liqueur
- 0.2 oz. Quaglia Berto Rosso vermouth
- 1 dash Regan’s Orange Bitters
- 0.1 oz. Sipsmith Sloe Gin
- 0.1 oz. Tipples British fruit liqueurs
- 1 dash Underberg herbal tonic
- 0.1 oz. Velvet Falernum
- 0.2 oz. Wray & Nephew rum
- 0.1 oz. Xante pear liqueur
- 0.2 oz. Yaguara Cachaça
- 1/2 tsp. Zoco pacharán liqueur