What’s in that mysterious brown bottle with the white label, bartender?

If you’ve ever ordered a cocktail at any respectable drinking establishment *cough*Rum Barrel*cough*, chances are you might’ve seen our dexterous bartender putting a few dashes of this mysteriously aromatic flavor in your drink. But what is it?

Angostura Bitters

Angostura Aromatic Bitters was created in 1824 by Johann Gottlieb Benjamin Siegert, a German doctor who moved to the town of Angostura in Venezuela in the 1820s.

Believe it or not, Bitters was first created after years of trial and error, as a natural herbal cure to severe fevers and internal stomach disorders that plagued Spanish soldiers.

Angostura Bitters went international when ships came into Angostura’s port on the banks of the Orinoco River and sailors sought it out to relieve sea-sickness. By the 1860s, it was a magic secret ingredient used to spice up the monotony of traditional alcohols.

Thanks to political instability in Venezuela, Siegert’s son and younger brother moved their operations to the island of Trinidad just off Venezuela’s coast (which, by the way, is where I’m from!). Eventually, they would go into rum production. Today, they have a 20-acre complex where Angostura Bitters and several internationally known rums are made (like my favorite, Angostura 1919! Yes, we serve it at The Rum Barrel…)

Photo courtesy Angostura Ltd.

When I was a kid, I remember driving by the Angostura factory on the way to school with my mom every morning. And every morning I’d wait with anticipation to inhale the overpowering scent of bitters and rum that rose for miles around.

Now distilled in Trinidad using the secret recipe from 1824 and the same natural blend of herbs and spices, Angostura® aromatic bitters is one of the few remaining true trade secrets.

Angostura® aromatic bitters subtly marries flavours, turning every drink into an unexpected experience. A lesser known fact is that it’s also used for cooking: A bottle of Angostura® aromatic bitters in the kitchen is the hallmark of a good Caribbean cook!

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