Why Angostura Bitters?

Posted February 14 2013

Angostura BittersAngostura Bitters, one of the supremely key ingredients to a classic cocktail. Angostura has been around a long time, long enough to have a hand in some of the most well known cocktails of the last 100 years. While there are great alternatives to Angostura (namely Fee Brothers product line), there are some that just ask for it by name: "Two dashes of Angostura bitters please."

That is right, Angostura is the "household name" (barhold name?) that answers the call when a cocktail requires bitters. Again, why specifically angostura? Simply because there are hundreds of cocktail enthusiasts that want to taste a little bit of history and live in the exciting life of both pre and post prohibition. When "times were great" and every tavern was mixing up the "Fine Art" as it was--even if you can never actually live in that time (nor would you want to if you had to deal with what our grandparents had to deal with over the years).

The basic principles of the cocktails where: good quality liquor, build the appetite, dry, eye catching and well iced. Sounds simple, right?

The components included a base, modifying agent and a coloring/flavoring agent. The base was your core spirit, let's just call out gin in our example (vodka as we know it didn't arrive until far into the future), then you had your coloring agent from a syrup like grenadine or perhaps a cordial or liqueur. The bitters was your modifying agent!

Angostura Bitters became the modifying agent for many classics. You could have chosen a vermouth or other aromatic wine or perhaps a fruit juice (although only a little usually) or an agent to smooth out the drink like eggwhite and cream. For a good eggwhite example, checkout our Ramos Gin Fizz cocktail on Common Man Cocktails.

So, you're in the market for some bitters and you want to know what you can do with them, right? Perfect. First, of course, you buy your angostura bitters from us (shake your head yes....okay, thank you). Now, let's take a couple classics to work with:


Old Fashioned

  • 2 oz. Rye Bourbon
  • 1 Sugar Cube
  • Splash of Soda Water
  • Dash ofAngostura Bitters

You can checkout the video of me creating it as well.


Whiskey Sour

  • 2 oz. Whiskey
  • 1 oz. Lemon Juice
  • 1 oz. Simple Syrup
  • 2 Dashes of Angostura Bitters

You can checkout that video as well.


There are many cocktails that utilize angostura and some just simply call for "bitters" and assume you're using angostura. We've even created the Angie Collins which was a god awful creation using about 1 oz. of angostura bitters as the core ingredient ( I don't suggest it, but you can try if you want ).

No matter how you choose to consume your angostura bitters or shoot for a highly demanded alternative in the Fee Brothers Old Fashioned Aromatic Bitters (slightly cheaper), I can tell you one thing: these are must have ingredients for many classics and many new cocktails being created in our cocktail revival. Not only are those new mixologists remembering and reliving the past history of cocktail creations, they're using it as a base foundation for creating ever expanding cocktial designs with the thousands of new liqueurs, spirits and modifying agents that have come to exists in this new age of cocktail.

Have fun with it, keep some on the shelf and use it from time to time in your own cocktail creations and see how it "mixes things up."