Contrary to popular belief, this bitter does not contain Angustora Bark.
Named after a town not an ingredient.
Notes: One of the best known bitters in the United States. Angostura does not contain angostura bark or any of its compounds, which are banned from import into the US. Angostura is the trade name only – much the same as Coca Cola.
Angostura was actually named after the town (now called Cuidad) and not the Angustora bark at all. Also because of the trademarking of the name no one else can call their bitter an “Angostura” even if it actually does contain actual angostura bark.
Used extensively by the British Navy in their Pink Gin (Gin and Bitters) to get sailors take their malaria medicine (as was rum and lime juice for scurvy). Used in cooking, as a digestive aid, and of course in many drinks where bitters are called for (unless a specific bitter such as orange or peach is called for.)
Part of the almost demise of bitters in general is the sloppy research and omission of bitters in many modern cocktail books – many people say “They don’t use bitters in drinks anymore so why mention them to a recipe?” which of course just adds to the problem. If a book doesn’t mention bitters for at least martinis and manhattans don’t buy it ! It means the person who wrote it has no idea what they are doing and are perpetuating mediocre books and ignorance. Bitters blend the other ingredients together, add many layers and depths of flavor, and may even help your digestion.
First Impression: Cloves, cinnamon, some floral citrus notes.
Appearance: Dark reddish brown, fairly thin and free flowing compared to some bitters.
Taste: Quite aromatic, if not as complex as some. Primary tastes are clove, gentian, cinnamon, angelica root, quinine alkali notes. Finish is medium-length.
Drinks: In somewhat of a departure from our normal format we also discuss which drinks bitters are used in as so many people are not aware how integral they are to a cocktail. Orange bitters along with Angostura (or aromatic bitters) were used in pretty much the bulk of cocktails from the beginning until recently. A manhattan or a martini is just not right until bitters have been added, and this applies to almost all other cocktails.
Bottle: Dark brown glass bottle with oversized white label with small print all over it. Bright yellow screw cap closure.
Other: Best refrigerated and probably has a shelf life – i.e. it could lose flavor and need to be replaced after a certain period?
Final Thoughts: Formerly available everywhere,it has been almost hunted to extinction. There was and is an ongoing shortage of unknown origin and duration. While not as complex or interesting as a number of bitters, most people are familiar with it and it is considered the standard bitter when one asks for bitters in their drink.