Black Sabbath Cocktail

Ozzy Osborne bites the head off a bat

Your cocktail calendar entry for: January
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On January 20 we’re mixing the Black Sabbath cocktail, but not because we’re heavy metal rock fans at The Drunkard’s Almanac.  Rather, it’s because it’s the anniversary of the time in 1982 that Ozzy Osborne, on stage, bit the head off a live bat.  It’s an incident that lives in infamy.  It’s destined to follow the legendary rocker to his grave, and we find it an amusing inspiration for a drink.  Fortunately, there’s a good cocktail going by his prior band name, the Black Sabbath cocktail.

Ozzy Osborne and the Bat Incident

Ozzy Osborne got his start in rock and roll in 1968 as the founding vocalist of the band Black Sabbath.  They’re often cited as being among the pioneers of heavy metal music, a genre not exactly known for subtlety.  The group distinguished itself through their use of occult themes and horror-inspired lyrics.

Mr. Osborne’s job description at the time was pretty much “dark prince of heavy metal” and he lived up to the reputation.  His alcohol and drug binges were extreme, to the point that the band fired him in 1979.

Not to be dissuaded, Mr. Osborne formed the group Blizzard of Ozz in late 1979.  Their album, Diary of a Madman, was followed by an extensive concert tour.  That brings us to the bat incident.

And then Mr. Osborne arrived in Des Moines, Iowa, for the January 20, 1982 show.  By this time he had developed a reputation for throwing raw meat into the audience.  In turn, the audience would toss back whatever they had been able to smuggle in.  All good fun.

That night in Iowa someone threw a live bat onto the stage.  Claiming to think it was a rubber toy, Mr. Osborne picked it up, put it in his mouth and crunched down.  We’re not sure how he mistook a small,  furry creature for a rubber toy, but says he realized his mistake immediately.

The audience looked on in horror, despite already being jaded by outrageous behavior.  The incident became infamous.  Mr. Osborne himself had to endure a long course of rabies shots, not exactly something you would choose for fun.  In 2001 Osborne lamented that he will be plagued until his death with questions about the bat.  “How did it taste, Ozzy?”  We prefer not to know.

The Black Sabbath Cocktail

We don’t condone bats for culinary or cocktail use, but we find Mr. Osborne’s antics to be good inspiration for a drink.  Even if most any cocktail with “bat” in its name is really just some Halloween stunt.  We prefer the Zombie for that holiday.

With that out of the way we return to Mr. Osborne’s rock and roll roots with the Black Sabbath cocktail.  It’s a dark and potently flavored drink created by Alex Smith at Honor Kitchen & Cocktails in Emeryville, California.  In one sense it reminds us of Jack Kerouac’s favorite drink, the Rusty Nail, though the use of a peated Scotch and absinthe take it to a very different place.  We recommend Laphroaig as a widely available, classic exemplar of heavily-peated whisky, and use it in a variety of drinks like the Drunk Uncle and the Hundred Year Old Cigar.

black sabbath cocktail

Black Sabbath Cocktail

Something of a variation on a Manhattan cocktail (whiskey plus modifier), the Black Sabbath has warm flavors from peated Scotch whiskey and Amaro Averna. The small bit of absinthe amps things up a bit for a delicious drink. This drink is an excellent use for Laphroaig Scotch whisky.
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  • 2 oz Scotch whisky We recommend Laphroaig here.
  • 1 oz Amaro Averna
  • ½ tsp Absinthe Use pastis if you're out of absinthe.
  • 1 dash Orange bitters
  • Garnish: orange twist


  • Add all ingredients to your trusty mixing glass.
  • Add ice and stir to chill.
  • Strain into pre-chilled cocktail glass.
  • Express twist over drink and garnish glass.
  • Drink.
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