After years in the wilderness at the back of the drinks cupboard, Angostura Bitters are making a comeback. Largely driven by interest in Fever Tree’s pink aromatic tonic, made using the bark of the angostura tree, the most bitter of bitters are back in vogue.
But all is not quite as it seems…..
Angostura is a place in Venezuela – or rather, it used to be a place in Venezuela – it is now known as Ciudad Bolivar and it sits at the mouth of the Orinoco River.
In the early 19th century, a German surgeon, Johann Siegert developed a health tonic for the troops under his care and it was so successful that he left the army and set up a distillery to produce his new invention. In 1875, the whole operation was moved to Trinidad and the House of Angostura company now makes rum as well as the bitters throughout the region.
INTERESTING FACT ONE: Angostura Bitters contain not one single strand of Angostura bark – they stopped using bark very early on in their history and the main flavouring is Gentian root.
We’ve been using the Fever Tree aromatic tonic (the one with the Angostura bark in it!) with our raspberry, nutmeg and vanilla Myristica Gin and it complements the fruit flavours very nicely, particularly with a raspberry garnish and a rub of lime around the rim of the glass…..but you can also add the Angostura Bitters (drop by drop until you reach the right amount for your taste buds) to the Myristica to make a grown up sipping gin cocktail over ice.
Angostura Bitters are a vital component in Old Fashioned and Manhattan cocktails and, of course, Pink Gin (saves a fortune on tonic) and, whilst we can’t vouch for the health benefits of Angostura Bitters or Fever Tree aromatic tonic, both Gentian root and Angostura bark have been used by tribespeople for centuries to treat all sorts of ailments including flatulence and baldness…..so I live in hope!
INTERESTING FACT TWO: Pink Gin has the distinction of being ordered on-screen by James Bond in The Man with the Golden Gun…..and Captain Peacock in Are You Being Served…..