Updated at: 08-08-2023 - By: John Lau

Ever puzzled over the mystery ingredient that gives your cocktail a unique kick?

Well, meet Angostura Bitters, an iconic blend of herbs and spices often used to add depth to beverages.

In this article, you’ll uncover the fascinating history and flavor profile of this herbal alcoholic preparation that originated right from the House of Angostura in Trinidad.

Get ready for a flavorful journey!

History and Origin of Angostura Bitters

What Is Angostura Bitters (1)

Angostura bitters holds a rich history, intertwined with botanical exploration and the quest for medicinal solutions.

The story of this concentrated herbal alcoholic preparation begins in the early 19th century.

A German physician named Dr. Johann Siegert created it while serving as Surgeon-General in Simon Bolivar’s army in Angostura, Venezuela – hence the name “Angostura”.

His focus was to formulate a remedy to cure upset stomachs among soldiers.

Dr. Siegert spent years fine-tuning his gentian-based recipe before finally revealing it to the world under its original guise – ‘Dr. Siegert’s Aromatic Bitters’.

As time went on, his sons established the brand that exists today – House of Angostura, relocating production to Trinidad and Tobago due to political instability back home.

This shift did not alter their core blend of herbs and spices but lent tropical influence over subsequent iterations; an aromatic flavoring that has since become synonymous with their brand identity.

Ingredients and Flavor Profile

What Is Angostura Bitters (2)

Angostura bitters is made from a blend of herbs and spices, giving it its distinctive flavor profile.

The main ingredient in these concentrated bitters is gentian, which is a bitter-tasting root commonly used in herbal tonics.

While the name may suggest otherwise, Angostura bitters do not actually contain angostura bark.

The mixture of herbs, spices, and gentian gives Angostura bitters its intense alcoholic taste. It has a complex flavor that adds depth and complexity to beverages like cocktails.

The House of Angostura in Trinidad and Tobago is known for producing the most popular type of cocktail bitters.

When using Angostura bitters in your drinks or recipes, remember that a little goes a long way due to its strong flavor profile.

Just a few drops can add an aromatic and slightly bitter note to your favorite cocktails or culinary creations.

In summary, Angostura bitters are made from a blend of herbs, spices, and gentian root. They have an intense alcoholic taste and are commonly used as cocktail flavor enhancers.

Remember to use them sparingly as they pack quite a punch when it comes to flavor!

Uses and Applications of Angostura Bitters

What Is Angostura Bitters (3)

In Cocktails

Angostura bitters is a versatile ingredient that adds a unique flavor to cocktails.

Here are some ways it can be used:

  1. Classic Old Fashioned: Add a few dashes of Angostura bitters to bourbon or whiskey, along with a sugar cube and a splash of water. Stir until the sugar is dissolved, then add ice and garnish with an orange twist.
  2. Manhattan: Mix rye or bourbon with sweet vermouth and a few dashes of Angostura bitters. Stir well with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry.
  3. Martini: For a twist on the classic martini, add a dash of Angostura bitters to your gin or vodka for added complexity. Stir or shake with ice and strain into a chilled glass.
  4. Champagne Cocktail: Place a sugar cube soaked in Angostura bitters at the bottom of a champagne flute, then top it off with sparkling wine. The bitters will add depth and complexity to the bubbly drink.
  5. Sours: Add Angostura bitters to whiskey sours or other citrus-based cocktails for an extra layer of flavor. The bitterness from the bitters complements the tartness of the citrus.
  6. Tiki Drinks: Surprisingly, Angostura bitters can also be found in many tiki-style cocktails. Its complex flavor profile pairs well with tropical fruit juices and rum for an exotic twist.
  7. Mocktails: Don’t worry if you’re not into alcohol – you can still enjoy the flavors of Angostura bitters in non-alcoholic drinks like mocktails and sodas.

In Food Recipes

Angostura bitters is not just limited to cocktails, it also adds a unique and flavorful twist to various food recipes.

Here are some ways you can incorporate Angostura bitters in your culinary creations:

  1. Enhance the flavor of sauces and marinades: Add a few drops of Angostura bitters to your favorite barbecue sauce or marinade for an extra layer of complexity. The herbal extracts and aromatic flavoring of the bitters will give your sauces a rich and savory taste.
  2. Jazz up baked goods: Add a splash of Angostura bitters to your cake or cookie batter for a surprising burst of flavor. The blend of herbs and spices in the bitters will lend a unique depth to your sweet treats.
  3. Elevate savory dishes: Use Angostura bitters as a secret ingredient in savory dishes like stews, gravies, and sautés. Its distinct cocktail flavoring can bring out the best in meaty and hearty dishes.
  4. Create signature salad dressings: Mix Angostura bitters with olive oil, vinegar, honey, and mustard to create a deliciously tangy dressing for your salads. The bitter liqueur will add depth and complexity to classic dressings.
  5. Flavorful desserts: From ice creams to custards, adding a touch of Angostura bitters can take your desserts to new heights. It pairs especially well with chocolate-based desserts, complementing their richness with its unique herbal notes.
  6. Craft cocktails-inspired dishes: Get creative by using Angostura bitters as a primary seasoning or ingredient in artisanal dishes inspired by classic cocktails. Think whiskey-infused steak or gin-infused seafood recipes that’ll tantalize your taste buds.
  7. Experimentation is key: Don’t be afraid to experiment! Try adding a few dashes of Angostura bitters to various recipes like caramelized onions, roasted vegetables, or even a fruit salad. The possibilities are endless, and you may discover unexpected flavor combinations that will impress your guests.


In conclusion, Angostura Bitters is a concentrated herbal alcoholic preparation known for its aromatic flavoring and versatile uses.

Whether it’s enhancing the flavors of beverages or adding depth to food recipes, this blend of herbs and spices has become a staple in the world of mixology and bartending.

So next time you’re looking to elevate your cocktail game or add a unique twist to your culinary creations, don’t forget about the distinctive taste and stomach-soothing benefits that Angostura Bitters brings to the table.