- There is some interest in bitters, and one of the most well known is
Angostura Bitters, which originally was formulated in 1824 in the
Venezuelan town of Angostura, now renamed Cuidad Bolivar. The plant
was moved to Trinidad in 1875.
Here are some excerpts froman article in Beverage Business -
Bitters is an elixir made by the infusion of herbs, roots, barks,
seeds, fruit and peels in alcohol (sometimes distilled, sometimes
not), usually with much coloring matter and little sweetening. Though
finding less favor in our age of over-the-counter drugs and mass-
produced beverages, bitters (and other elixirs) still enjoy wide use
as nostrums for gastric upheaval, hangover, and what-ails-you. Use
them to flavor mixed drinks, spice neat rum, turn soda into aperitif
or digestive, or enhance soups, marinades and dessert.
Bitters are especially renowned in their countries of origin:
Peychaud's and Abbots (U.S.)
Amer Picon and Secresat (France)
Campari and Fernet Branca (Italy)
Law's Peach Bitters (England)
Pommeranzen and Unicum (Hungary)
to name a few.
Angostura is a rum-based bitters made from a formula long the secret
of the Siegert family, heirs of the inventor Dr. J.G.B. Siegert, a
German doctor who became surgeon general to Simon Bolivar and his
troops during the liberation of South America. He brewed his
original 'amargo aromatico' from medicinal herbs and plants to
counteract the enervating effect of the tropical climate on the
So, what's in the bitters?
The recipe is as carefully guarded as Coca-Cola's, Benedictine, and
The label reads:
A skillful blended aromatic preparation of gentian in combination
with a variety of vegetable coloring matter.
The label assures us that Angostura includes no bark of the angostura
Alert taste buds afford a few leads: surely basic brown spices -
cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, and allspice - play a role. Orange peel adds
a citric note.
Rum, not water, extracts the maximum flavor and color from the brew.
The proof must be fairly high (44.7%) to keep the solids in
Siegert's original cure for rumbletummy among Bolivar's troops - a
teaspoon of bitters in a glass of water - still works after 2
The article gives a tonic recipe from Trinidad using Angostura -
Glass of Guiness stout
1-2 beaten raw eggs
Small amount of orange juice and condensed milk
2 dashes of Angostura
Stir lightly and consume.