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What Are Angostura Bitters?

Medicine and research behind its creation have improved significantly over the years. In the past, many alcoholic drinks were thought to have medicinal properties. But what medical benefits did Angostura Bitters possess?

Angostura Bitters were initially created as a remedy for the upset stomachs of Simón Bolívar’s military personnel. They soon became a staple in most cocktails, and their signature is their oversized label and yellow cap.

History of the Angostura Bitters?

The origin of Angostura Bitters dates back to 1824. Dr. Johann Siegert, a Prussian army medic who fought against Napoleon before becoming the surgeon general for the Venezuelan military leader Simón Bolívar created the Angostura Bitters to cure upset stomachs. It was initially named Dr. Siegert’s Aromatic Bitters but was renamed after the town of Angostura, known as Ciudad Bolivar in Venezuela. (Source: Alcademics)

Siegert became fascinated with the herbs and plants available in Angostura and started experimenting with different blends and mixtures to create bitter medicine, which he believed would boost the troops’ health. (Source: Vine Pair)

In 1862, Siegert’s son exhibited the bitters in England, mixing them with gin, ultimately creating the Pink Gin drink. When Siegert passed away in 1870, his sons relocated the business from a politically unstable Angostura to Trinidad. Afterward, they renamed Dr. Siegert’s Aromatic Bitters to Angostura Bitters. (Source: Alcademics)

How Are They Made?

The recipe for the bitters is highly guarded. It is speculated that over forty ingredients are used to create the concoction. Only five people in the entire world know the formula to make them, and all five vowed never to fly in the same plane together or even eat at the same restaurant. (Source: Vine Pair)

The secret ingredients are usually shipped to England and are placed in coded bags before being transported to Trinidad. It was speculated that the company and customs have agreed that the packages will not be inspected as they arrive in Trinidad to preserve the secret. (Source: Alcademics)

These ingredients are shipped to the Sanctuary, an exclusive upper chamber where only the five individuals are allowed entrance. The experts grind and blend the components, which will then be dropped to a floor down where other workers proceed with the process.

The processed ingredients will then be infused with high-proof spirit in percolator tanks. Once done, the distillate will be mixed with brown sugar and coloring before it gets diluted in 44.7% alcohol. (Source: Vine Pair)

The Marketing and Trademark of the Angostura Bitters

The Angostura Bitters bottle has two very distinct characteristics. It has a yellow cap, and the label for the bottle is oversized as if it was a sleeve instead of a label. This different labeling was an error committed by the Siegert brothers as they took over the business from their father.

To market their product, the brothers entered a competition. The brothers divided the workload in a scramble to get their product ready. One was responsible for procuring the bottles, while another was assigned to print the labels. Due to miscommunication, the brothers ended up with an oversized label, covering the bottle up to the neck.

Though the brothers lost the competition, one of the judges suggested they keep the large labels and use them as part of the trademark of their product. (Source: Vine Pair)

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