The ubiquitous bitters that have reached a legendary status, used in all manner of cocktails. These are the best selling cocktail bitters in the world.
First created in 1824 as a medicine, by German Doctor Johann Gottlieb Benjamin Siegert, who was attached to the army of the great Liberator, Simon Bolivar. Production began in earnest in 1830, when a distillery was set up for the purpose of creating these bitters. Whilst Angostura Bitters is named after a town found in Venezuela, at the narrowing of the Orinoco River, it is now produced in Trinidad, where Angostura rum is also made.
The ingredients are a closely guarded secret. Only one person knows the entire formula, and this knowledge is hereditarily passed. The bitters are said to contain over 40 different botanicals, herbs and spices. These ingredients are first gathered in a special facility in England, where they are separately collected, sorted and packaged discreetly. Apparently, not the ingredients are not even inspected by Trinidadian customs, as part of a deal made with the government.
The ingredients are ground in a different facility inside the factory, before being dropped to the lower levels, where (finally) general workers take over.
The botanicals are macerated in 97% ABV alcohol in a huge percolation system, before being moved to another large vessel, where brown sugar and caramel colouring is added. The mixture is then diluted with distilled water, to 44.7% ABV.
The final result is a dark, spicy, slightly floral and complex bitters, bittersweet, balanced, with a distinctive flavour unlike any other.
Famed also for the iconic yellow top and oversized label, this is a result of two brothers handling the design process, with one creating the bottle and the other the label, and neither thought to consult one another on sizing, apparently.
Cocktails have been made with Angostura since the drinks became popular, with classics such as the Old Fashioned, the Manhattan, Pink Gin, the Pisco Sour and the Champagne Cocktail all requiring this aromatic addition. In recent years, there has been a trend towards using Angostura bitters as a base spirit, in cocktails such as the Trinidad Sours, and indeed, some bartenders keep a large, 1 liter bottle in their speed rail expressly for this purpose.
Simply put, Angostura Bitters are a vital part of any home or commercial bar.