header home Backbar Bar Station Recipe Database Month's Feature "Drink-o-pedia" Mixology Contact

Angostura Bitters


Aromatic Bitters


By Robert Plotkin

Trinidad is the southernmost island in the British West Indies chain, and at 2000 square miles in area, is second only to Jamaica in size. The island lies 8 miles off the coast of Venezuela and was once geologically a part of South America. Now a major producer of rum, Trinidad is world renowned for its most famous export, Angostura Aromatic Bitters.

In 1820, a 24-year old, Prussian army surgeon named Dr. J. G. B. Siegert came to South America to enlist in the cause of independence under General Simón Bolívar. Soon after, he was appointed the Surgeon General of the military hospital in the small town of Angostura. There he created a compound using tropical herbs, spices and a base of alcohol as a medicinal tonic to cure the numerous disorders prevalent in the jungles of South America.

The aromatic bitters proved a highly effective remedy and its reputation as a curative rapidly spread. Siegert eventually left the military and turned his complete attention to the production of his bitters. In 1875, the political climate in Venezuela was rapidly deteriorating. Riots and civil unrest caused the Siegert family to move their business to neighboring Trinidad.

Angostura bitters is a concentrated elixir consisting of tropical herbs, spices, gentian root, vegetable flavoring extracts and 44.7% alcohol by volume. While its formula is a closely guarded secret, the bitters do not contain angostura bark and it is conjectured that rum is used as the alcohol base.

The company also produces Angostura Orange Bitters, which is made from a blend of two varieties of bitter orange essence with their distinctive herbs and spices.

Angostura Bitters is a key ingredient in scores of classic drinks ranging from the Pink Gin, Pisco Sour and Champagne Cocktail to the Rum Punch, Old Fashioned and the original Manhattan. Without an ample supply of the famous bitters behind the bar, cocktail production would slow to a mere trickle.


Angostura Bitter Recipes


17th Street Sazerac, The
Absinthe rinsed cocktail glass, chilled
Pour into an iced mixing glass
1 oz. Pierre Ferrand Ambre Cognac
1 oz. Wild Turkey 101
1/4 oz. Demerara Syrup
4 dashes Peychaud Bitters
3 dashes Angostura Bitters
Stir and strain
9 Lives
Hurricane glass, ice
Pour into an iced mixing glass
1 oz. Cruzan 9 Spiced Rum
1 oz. Cruzan Aged Light Rum
2 oz. orange juice
3 oz. pineapple juice
Shake and strain
2–3 dashes Angostura Bitters
A.S. Macpherson (A/F)
House specialty glass, ice
Pour into an iced mixing glass
3 oz. orange juice
2 oz. fresh apple cider
1 1/2 oz. lemon sour mix
3 dashes Angostura Bitters
Shake and strain
Fill with club soda
Orange slice garnish
Affinity Cocktail
Cocktail glass, chilled
Pour into an iced mixing glass
2 1/2 oz. Scotch Whisky
1/2 oz. Dry Vermouth
1/2 oz. Sweet Vermouth
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Stir and strain
Lemon twist garnish
Ainsley's Moms Caribbean Rum Punch
Punch bowl or decanter
Build in punch bowl
1 1/2 cups brown sugar simple syrup
1 tsp. Angostura Bitters
3 oz. fresh lime juice
3 oz. fresh lemon juice
4 1/2 oz. strawberry syrup
14 oz. pineapple juice
1 liter tropical fruit juice
12 oz. Plantation 3 Stars Rum
1 liter lemonade
12 oz. sparkling water
Fill punch bowl with ice and stir contents thoroughly
5 limes and oranges cut in thin wheels garnish
Makes 14-16 servings
Algonquin Table Manhattan
Cocktail glass, chilled
Pour into an iced mixing glass
2 1/2 oz. Bourbon
1/2 oz. MARTINI Bianco Vermouth
1/2 oz. pineapple juice
3 dashes Angostura Bitters
Stir and strain
Orange slice and cherry garnish