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Angostura Bitters and Angostura Bark Bitters

Orinoco and Angostura Bitters. Beitragsbild.

Angostura bitters are one of the great mysteries of historical bar books. What appears to be clear at first glance is trickier than thought, and it is only from 1907 onwards that there is relative clarity. To understand the enigma, we need to delve a little into the history of bitters.

Bitters were a cure-all at the time, and their manufacturers advertised that they helped with everything from indigestion to malaria. [1-12] In the mid-19th century, hundreds of different bitters were available, [1-12] and so it is not surprising that there was competition between the manufacturers, which was fought out with all available legal means, above all the Siegert company with its Angostura Bitters. They were in dispute with all the other suppliers of Angostura bitters, and this dispute was about who was allowed to use the term “Angostura”. In particular, the dispute between Abbott and Siegert is well known. Abbott called its bitters “Angostura Aromatic Bitters” after the ingredient used in it, the bark of the Angostura tree. Siegert’s bitter did not contain this bark, but was named after the town of Angostura in Venezuela, where it was originally produced. [1-13]

Angostura Bitters, advertisement from 1913, from Jacques Straub's book "A Complete Manual of Mixed Drinks".
Angostura Bitters, advertisement from 1913, from Jacques Straub’s book “A Complete Manual of Mixed Drinks”. [13]

We do not want to go into detail about these legal disputes here, but limit ourselves to what is important in this article. We refer to what was found by the Supreme Court of the State of New York and published in 1893. The court found that in 1824 Dr. Johannes G. B. Siegert made a bitter which we know today as Angostura Bitters, and that at that time he was a resident of the town of Angostura in Venezuela. Around 1830 he began to distribute this bitter commercially. From 1830 to 1864 he was the sole owner, and from 1864 until his death in 1870, his son, Carlos D. Siegert, was his business partner. In the town of Angostura, whose name was changed to Ciudad Bolivar in 1846 and which is still called that today, the company produced until 1876, when it was moved to Port of Spain on the island of Trinidad. It is important to note that before 1875 the label of the bitters read “Aromatic Bitters, prepared by Dr. Siegert, at Angostura (now Cuidad Bolivar)”, between 1875 and 1884 it read “Aromatic Bitters, or Angostura Bitters, prepared by Dr. Siegert, at Angostura (now Port of Spain, Trinidad).” [2-243] [2-244]

In 1881, Siegert sued the Abbott company for the first time because they also used the term “Angostura” for their bitters. This Baltimore company had previously traded as G. H. Maynard & Co, which had been selling a bitter under the name “Angostura Aromatic Bitters” since 1872. Cornelius F. Abbott was employed by this firm and took it over in 1876, in the early 1880s his son became a business partner, since when it has been called C. W. Abbott & Co. [2-244] [6] The court clearly found from evidence that the firm of G. H. Maynard & Co first used the term Angostura on its labels, and Siegert lost the case. [2-245]In the following years, there were further lawsuits brought by Siegert, finally Abbott lost the dispute over the trademark right, they were no longer allowed to call their product Angostura after 1906. [1-13] [5] The same of course applied accordingly to other producers of Angostura (bark) bitters.

In this context, the following is interesting: what we know today as Angostura Bitters was not always what was understood by an Angostura Bitters. It was only after 1906, or rather in the years following, that we can assume that the recipes gradually really meant the Angostura Bitters we know, and not Angostura Bark Bitters. There were other producers of bitters besides Abbott called Angostura Bitters, as their main ingredient was angostura bark. These are likely to have been quite successful, and so Siegert saw the legal battle as a way of driving unwelcome and successful competitors out of the market. Anyway, we read that the three best-selling bitters were Angostura Bitters from Siegert, Peychaud Bitters were the Angostura Bark Bitters from Abbott. [7]

Against this background, we assume that in the recipes published before 1907, and even a good deal later, Angostura Bitters did not (or at least not always) mean those of the Siegert company. In our view, there are two weighty arguments in favour of this. Firstly, we have searched the historical books for recipes for Angostura Bitters. With five exceptions, all the other 18 recipes we could find are identical, and they use Angostura bark:

4 ounces angostura bark.
1 ounce chamomile flowers.
1/4 ounce cardamom seeds
1/4 ounce cinnamon bark
1 ounce orange peel
1 pound raisins
2 1/2 gallons proof spirit
Macerate for a month, then press and filter.

One might object that one author copied from another. This may well be the case, but the fact that this happens repeatedly and almost exclusively also raises doubts. Perhaps this recipe simply leads to a satisfactory result, so that no reason was seen to change it.

Of the five other recipes, however, two are not angostura bark bitters. One appeared in a Mexican book from 1896, the other by Charles H. Baker, Jr. from 1939 and 1946 respectively. In the Mexican recipe the gentian is clearly in the foreground, as it is in Siegert’s Angostura Bitters. [14] It therefore seems to be a recipe that was intended to imitate Siegert’s recipe. According to rumours, Charles H. Baker’s recipe is even the one from Siegert’s house – so it is also an imitation.

Orinoco Bitters.
Orinoco Bitters. [8]

But what about the taste of Angostura bark bitters? Based on our thesis that in the old recipes, especially those that were created in the 19th century until shortly after the turn of the 20th century, Angostura Bitters might not have been meant, but Angostura Bark Bitters, we went in search of bitters that are based on Angostura Bark. We came across the Dead Rabbit Orinoco Bitters from the house of Dr. Adam Elmegirab. We tasted them on some exemplary 19th century cocktails in comparison with other bitters, especially in comparison with Siegerts Angostura Bitters, and the result was stunning. In the East India Cocktail, the Orinoco Bitters gave an excellent result, better than with any other bitters. The same goes for the Manhattan Cocktail. For us, the Orinoco Bitters are the best bitters for these drinks so far. But to what extent is this bitter, in which angostura bark is used, comparable to the angostura bark bitters of the 19th century? We don’t know, because we don’t know the recipes of the various suppliers of the time. The recipe that has come down to us in the books is certainly only one variation, as each supplier will probably have had a different recipe to distinguish themselves from their competitors. We do not know how close these were to the recipe handed down in the books.

That the recipes differed can be seen again, for example, in the Abbott’s Bitters. Similar in taste to the historical samples of Abbott’s Bitters was a recipe of the Angostura Bark Bitters from the O. B. Van Camp company. Here, gentian, angostura bark, cardamom, cassia and cloves were used in addition to about 17 other ingredients. [5]

An antique bottle of Orinoco Bitters.
An antique bottle of Orinoco Bitters. [8]

What is the situation with Orinoco Bitters? We read the label carefully and also looked at the product page. The ingredients listed are: Angostura bark, camomile, green cardamom, cinnamon bark, orange peel, sultanas, quassia bark, red sandalwood, molasses sugar. [9] [15]

We were surprised to find that – with the exception of the quassia bark and the red sandalwood – this corresponds to the historical ingredients of an angostura bark bitter. We can therefore assume that with this bitter one should come quite close to an Angostura bark bitter of the 19th century.

The additional use of quassia bark is obvious, because due to its bitterness it is used in bitters. The tree, also called bitterwood, originates from the South American rainforest and is used as a remedy for loss of appetite, indigestion, stomach, intestinal and bilious complaints. [10] [11] It should not be confused with cassia bark, which is the bark of the cinnamon tree, Cinnamomum cassia. [12]

We would like to take this opportunity to tell you a little more about the Orinoco Bitters. They originated from Dr Adam Elmegirab as a reproduction of a bottling from the 19th century. Adam collected a number of samples of various historic bitters, many of them more bitter and aromatic than bitters we are used to today, and this historic style was to be at the forefront of the Dead Rabbit Orinoco Bitters. The name refers to the Orinoco Bitters originally produced by the Blemmerg Manufacturing Company of Boston in the late 19th century. [3]

Orinoco Bitters, advertisement from 1884, from George Winter's book "How to Mix Drinks".
Orinoco Bitters, advertisement from 1884, from George Winter’s book “How to Mix Drinks”. [4]

We find an advertisement for these bitters in 1884 in George Winter’s book “How to Mix Drinks”, and they are advertised there as “Angostura Bitters”. This ad also caught the eye of Jack McGarry in New York when he was putting together the first cocktail menu for his bar. It was clear to him that these bitters had to be the house bitters of his bar. So he searched for someone who could resurrect the Bitters and eventually chose Dr Adam Elmegirab to do it. The reason for Jack’s decision to have this bitter made was surely also the almost fateful connection between the Orinoco Bitters and his bar. The advertisement published by George Winter states that the bitters would be produced by Max D. Stern in New York, located at number 32 Water Street. 129 years later, right next door at number 30, Jack opened the renowned bar “Dead Rabbit Grocery & Grog” together with Sean Muldoon in 2013. [3]

With Orinoco Bitters, we have a bitter at our disposal with which – as our trials have shown – we can convincingly recreate old classics. However, they are not only excellent for historical recipes.

Against the background of what has been written before, our own tastings are proof enough that for numerous old classics for which Angostura Bitters are written in the recipes, it was usually bitters with Angostura bark that were meant, and not the Siegert Angostura Bitters, which are made without Angostura bark. But we do not want to be unfair. The latter also absolutely belong in every bar, but in our view they are rather something for more modern drinks that have been developed accordingly for them.

If we had to decide on just a few bitters from the now extensive range, then besides classic orange bitters, Siegert’s Angostura Bitters and Peychaud’s Bitters, Orinoco Bitters and Booker’s Bitters, also from the house of Adam Elmegirab, belong in every bar. In principle, any drink can be prepared with these five different bitters, unless other special bitters are required in the recipe.

Sources
  1. Brad Thomas Parsons: Bitters: a spirited history of a classic cure-all, with cocktails, recipes, and formulas. ISBN 978-1-58008-359-1. New York, Ten Speed Press, 2011.
  2. Marcus T. Hun: Reports of Cases Heard and Determined in the Supreme Court of the State of New York. Volume LXXIX. 1893. Hun 72. Seite 243-254. New York, Banks & Brothers.  http://abbottsbitters.com/sites/default/files/documents/SIEGERT%20v.%20ABBOTT%20Legal%20Summary%20%281893%29.pdf
  3. E-Mail of Adam Elmegirab, 6. December 2016.
  4. George Winter: How to Mix Drinks. New York, 1884. Advertisement for Orinoco Bitters.
  5. http://abbottsbitters.com/about-abbotts-bitters: About Abbott’s Bitters.
  6. http://www.fohbc.org/2015/02/abbotts-bitters-from-baltimore/: Abbott’s Bitters from Baltimore. By Peter Schaf, 22. February 2015.
  7. http://www.peachridgeglass.com/2011/12/abbotts-aromatic-bitters-a-later-bitters-with-class/: Abbott’s Aromatic Bitters – A Later Bitters with Class. Ferdinand Meyer V., 27. December 2011.
  8. The photos were kindly provided by Adam Elmegirab.
  9. http://www.doctoradams.co.uk/orinoco-aromatic-bitters.html: Orinoco Aromatic Bitters.
  10. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quassia_amara: Quassia amara.
  11. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quassia_amara: Quassia amara.
  12. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zimtkassie: Zimtkassie.
  13. Jacques Straub: A Complete Manual of Mixed Drinks For All Occasions. Chicago, R. Francis Welsh Publishing Co., 1913.
  14. https://elementalmixology.blog/2014/08/14/stoughtons-bitters-and-stoughtonesque-bitters/: Stoughton’s Bitters and Stoughtonesque Bitters. By Andrew Willett, 14. August 2014.
  15. E-Mail of Adam Elmegirab, 8. March 2017.

Historical recipes

1869 Anonymus: Haney’s Steward & Barkeeper’s Manual. Seite 61. Angostura Bitters.

Angostura bark, four ounces; camomile flowers, one
ounce; cardamom seeds, quarter ounce; cinnamon bark,
quarter ounce; orange peel, one ounce; raisins, one pound;
proof spirits, two and a half gallons. Macerate for a month,
then press and filter.

1884 O. H. Byron: The Modern Bartenders’ Guide. Seite 94. Angostura Bitters.

4 oz. Angustura bark.
1 oz. chamomile flowers,
1/4 oz. cardamom seeds.
1/4 oz. cinnamon bark.
1 oz. orange peel.
1 lb. raisins.
2 1/2 gallons proof spirit.
Macerate for a month, then press and filter.

1891 Anonymus: Wehman’s Bartenders’ Guide. Seite 80. Angostura Bitters.

4 oz. Angostura Bark.
1 oz. Chamomile Elowers.
1/4 oz. Cardamom Seeds.
1/4 oz. Cinnamon Bark.
1 oz. Orange peel.
1 lb. Raisins.
2 1/2 gallons Proof Spirit.
Macerate for a month, then press and filter.

1896 Martin Fonts: Tratado teorico-pratico de la fabrication de vinos y licores de todas clases. Dritte Auflage. Mexico, 1896. Biter angostura o sea ingles.

Alcohol de 50 grados . . . . . . . . 100 litros.
Canela de china . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50 gramos.
Cálamo aromático . . . . . . . . . . 120 ”
Comino . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 ”
Genciana . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 450 ”
Gengibre . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60 ”
Clavo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 ”
Semilla de angélica . . . . . . . . . 50 ”
Cortezas frescas de . . . . . . . . . 20 limones
Cortezas frescas de . . . . . . . . . 30 naranjas
Nueces moscadas . . . . . . . . . . 15
Póngase todo en infusión fría por espacio de un més, y quítesey fil-
trese.
En caso de que se quiera precipitar la operación, puede adelantarse
poniendo todo junto en una olla de cobre y procurar que por espacio de
24 horas se mantenga á una temperatura lo más alta posible, pero que
no llegue á hervir; déjese enfriar, y con el azúcar quemado désele el co-
lor necesario y se puede filtrar.

1901 J. E. Sheridan: The complete buffet manual. Seite 99. Angostura Bitters.

4 oz. Angustura bark.
1 oz. chamomile flowers.
1/4 oz. cardamom seeds.
1/4 oz. cinnamon bark.
1 oz. orange peel.
1 lb. raisins.
2 1/2 gallons proof spirit.
Macerate for a month, then press and filter.

1903 V. B. Lewis: The Complete Buffet Guide. Seite 97. Angostura Bitters.

4 oz. Angostura bark.
1 oz. chamomile flowers.
1/4 oz. cardamom seeds.
1/4 oz. cinnamonbark.
1 oz. orange peel.
1 lb. raisins.
2 1/2 gallons proof spirit.
Macerate for a month, then press and filter.

1904 Paul E. Lowe: Drinks As They Are Mixed. Seite 85. Angostura Bitters.

Angostura bark, 4 oz.
Chamomile flowers, 1 oz.
Cardamom seeds, 1/4 oz.
Cinnamon bark, 1/4 oz.
Raisins, 1 lb.
Orange peel, 1 oz.
Proof spirits, 2 1/2 gallons.
Macerate for 30 days; press and
filter.

1904 Thomas Stuart: Stuart’s Fancy Drinks and How to Mix Them. Seite 122. Angostura Bitters.

4 oz. Angustura bark.
1 oz. chamomile flowers.
1/4 oz. cardamom seeds.
1/4 oz. cinnamon bark.
1 oz. orange peel.
1 lb. raisins.
2 1/4 gallons proof spirit.
Macerate for a month, then press and filter.

1905 Charles S. Mahoney: The Hoffman House Bartender’s Guide. Seite 227. Angostura Bitters.

Four ounces Angostura bark.
One ounce chamomile flowers.
One-fourth ounce cardamom seeds.
One-fourth ounce cinnamon bark.
One ounce orange peel.
One pound raisins.
Two and one-half gallons proof spirit.
Macerate for a month, then press and filter

1908 Charles S. Mahoney: The Hoffman House Bartender’s Guide. Seite 228. Angostura Bitters.

Four ounces Angostura bark.
One ounce chamomile flowers.
One-fourth ounce cardamom seeds.
One-fourth ounce cinnamon bark.
One ounce orange peel.
One pound raisins.
Two and one-half gallons proof spirit.
Macerate for a month, then press and filter.

1910 Charles S. Mahoney: The Hoffman House Bartender’s Guide. Seite 228. Angostura Bitters.

Four ounces Angostura bark.
One ounce chamomile flowers.
One-fourth ounce cardamom seeds.
One-fourth ounce cinnamon bark.
One ounce orange peel.
One pound raisins.
Two and one-half gallons proof spirit.
Macerate for a month, then press and filter.

1912 Anonymus: Wehman Bros.’ Bartenders’ Guide. Seite 74. Angostura Bitters.

Four ounces of angostura bark,
One ouince of chamomile flowers,
One-quarter ounce of cardamon seeds,
One-quarter ounce of cinnamon bark,
One ounce of orange peel,
One pound of raisins,
Two and one-half gallons of proof spirit.
Macerate for a month, then press and filter.

1912 Charles S. Mahoney: The Hoffman House Bartender’s Guide. Seite 228. Angostura Bitters.

Four ounces Angostura bark.
One ounce chamomile flowers.
One-fourth ounce cardamom seeds.
One-fourth ounce cinnamon bark.
One ounce orange peel.
One pound raisins.
Two and one-half gallons proof spirit.
Macerate for a month, then press and filter

1913 Harry Montague: The Up-To-Date Bartender’s Guide. Seite 44. Angostura Bitters.

4 oz. Angostura bark.
1 oz. camomile flowers.
1/4 oz. cinnamon bark.
1/4 oz. cardamon seed.
1 lb. raisins.
1 oz. orange peel.
2 1/2 gallons proof spirits.
Macerate 1 month; press; filter and bottle.

1914 Harry Montague: The Up-To-Date Bartender’s Guide. Seite 44. Angostura Bitters.

4 oz. Angostura bark.
1 oz. camomile flowers.
1/4 oz. cinnamon bark.
1/4 oz. cardamon seed.
1 lb. raisins.
1 oz. orange peel.
2 1/2 gallons proof spirits.
Macerate 1 month; press; filter and bottle.

1915 Anonymus – Manual del licorista. Seite 696. Amargo de Angostura.

Corteza de angostura . . . . . . . . 1000
Raíz de genciana . . . . . . . . . . . . 1000
Galanga . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 250
Corteza de naranja . . . . . . . . . . 1000
Naranjas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 250
Canela . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 200
Nuez moscada . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
Amomo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
Pimienta negra . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
Clavo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Alcohol de 90° . . . . . . . . . . . . . . lit. 9
Agua . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . » 8
A los cinco días de maceración se decanta el líquido.

1927 Paul Fouassier: Pour le distillateur. Seite 26. Angostura.

L’amer angostura, qui joue un
rôle primordial dans la confection de presque tous
les coktails, peut être préparé en faisant macérer pen-
dant un mois, dans environ 10 litres d’alcool à 90°:
Écorced’angostura . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 120 grammes.
Fleurs sèches de camomille . . . . . . 30 —
Semences de cardamome . . . . . . . . 5 —
Écorce de cannelle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 —
Raisins secs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 500 —
Remuer de temps à autre. Finalement décanter
et presser le résidu dans un nouet.

1934 Anonymus: Jayne’s Bartender’s Guide. Seite 132. Angostura Bitters.

One-quarter ounce cinnamon bark.
One-quarter ounce cardamom seeds.
1 ounce orange peel, cut fine.
4 ounces angostura bark.
1 pound raisins.
Two and one-half gallons proof spirits.
Macerate 30 days; press and filter.

1939 Charles H. Baker, Jr.: The Gentleman’s Companion. Seite 150.

FIRST a BRIEF DISCOURSE on the Health-Giving Tribe of
Bitters, Including Three Receipts for Their Compoundition
Being an Alleged Formula for Angostura, One for Orange, & One
for Hell-Fire-Bitters – sometimes Called “Cayenne Wine.”
Let us wave our white bar towel in a good-natured plea for truce
right at the outset, and affirm that this receipt for Angostura bitters
makes no claim to be the one hundred per cent, unchangeable, price-
less and violently kept secret formula. By the same token, if we
breathed our last in tonight’s sleep, the heirs and assigns of Dr. Johann
Gottlieb Benjamin Siegert – one-time surgeon in Bleucher’s army (we
trust the Angostura receipt booklet means the Blücher who, aged and
infirm, made that incredibly severe forced march to aid Wellington,
and even though he was “late,” nevertheless added the vital crushing
effect against Napoleon at Waterloo) – should lower all house flags
at half mast for the vats of their liquid we have consumed, or caused
to be consumed in our warped and intermittent career.
Let it never be said that so starry-eyed a devotee at the Angostura
shrine would ever claim that their “world’s best kept secret” had ever
crept out into light of day, in spite of the 7 people – all members of
the Siegert family – who have courted insomnia and shattered nervous
tone guarding it from profane eyes of a mercenary and covetous world
all those 115 years since 1824! According to the book of Angostura,
3 of these are still alive and active, and we hope our favourite male
actor Frank Morgan is one of them – as the rumour goes.
Angostura was originated as a tonic, a simple to ward off fevers,
miasmas, tropical swamp mists, and the general assortment of mauve
willies that beset Nordics under the equator – and the content of
quinine or cinchona definitely had virtue along this line. However,
as is so often the case with truly worth-while ventures, fate stuck her
tongue in cheek, and decreed that the bitters invented for health should
prove not only to be one of the best titillaters of the jaded appetite, but
by far the best priceless ingredient in all sorts of cocktails and mixed
drinks; as well as in many of the tastiest exotic food receipts we have
sampled around the world.
Actually there are 6 main kinds of bitters sold on the open market:
Angostura, orange, Peychaud’s, Calisaya, Amer Picon, and Boker’s.
Hell-Fire Bitters or Cayenne Wine, are local semi-amateur tropical
creations. Peach bitters, Boonekamp’s and others may be found in
first flight provision houses catering in hard-to-find, and usually im-
ported oddments of drink and good food. Of all these Angostura is
by far the most important. We now append a formula for Trinidad
bitters we had given us by a friend who lived in Port of Spain, and
which dated many years back into an old publication he had dis-
covered among some family accumulations in settling an estate. The
old text claimed this to be the leaked-out secret formula for Angostura,
but of course we cannot confirm this as being true without verifica-
tion from the Siegert clan – which is about as likely as we would tee
up our right eyeball fur a shot over the water hole at Del Monte!
We will say this though: our own pharmacy supplied us with all the
ingredients over 2 years ago: Those that weren’t ground or pounded
fine we reduced to that state in a small kitchen mortar we own. The
rest, the blending with spirits, was easy; the result was an inconceiv-
ably more economical form of bitters with the same flavour, action
and virtue.

Cinchona bark, 8 drachms Camomile Bowers, 2 drachms
Lemon peel, 2 drachms Bark cinnamon, 1/2 drachm
Orange peel, 2 drachms Raisins, 1/4 lb
Cardamon seeds, shelled and Best grain alcohol, 2 qts
crushed, 1/2 drachm

All ingredients must be ground or pounded fine except the raisins,
and these are first chopped fine, then mixed thoroughly with every-
thing else. Seal tightly in a 2 qt jar and pour in enough of the finest
grain alcohol obtainable, to fill-which will be a scant 2 qts. Let stand
at an even, fairly warm temperature for 6 weeks, stirring or shaking
vigorously twice every day. Strain, then strain through a cloth; press-
ing at the last to extract essentials from the sediment. Stir and strain
once more, and bottle for use. Bon chance, Messieurs.

1943 J. Roldán: Recetario moderno del licorista y barman. Seite 124. Amargo Angostura.

Hágase macerar durante
30 días en 10 litros de alcohol de 90°, removiendo de
vez en cuando:
Corteza de Angostura . . . 120 gramos
. ” ” canela . . . . . . 5 ”
Flores de manzanilla,
. secas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 ”
Semillas de caramomo . . 5 ”
Pasas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 500 ”
Transcurrido el tiempo de maceración, decántese
y exprímase el residuo dentro de una muñequilla.
Este licor desempeña primordial papel en la pre-
paración de gran número de combinados. Unas gotas
de él en una limonada le dan también un sabor
agradable.

1945 George Gardner: How to be a bartender. Seite 85. Angostura Bitters.

Angostura bark, 4 oz.
Chamomile flowers, 1 oz.
Cardamom seeds, 1/4 oz.
Cinnamon bark, 1/4 oz.
Raisins, 1 lb.
Orange peel, 1 oz.
Proof spirits, 2 1/2 gallons.
Macerate for 30 days; press and
filter.

1946 Charles H. Baker, Jr.: The Gentleman’s Companion. Seite 150.

FIRST a BRIEF DISCOURSE on the Health-Giving Tribe of
Bitters, Including Three Receipts for Their Compoundition
Being an Alleged Formula for Angostura, One for Orange, & One
for Hell-Fire-Bitters – sometimes Called “Cayenne Wine.”
Let us wave our white bar towel in a good-natured plea for truce
right at the outset, and affirm that this receipt for Angostura bitters
makes no claim to be the one hundred per cent, unchangeable, price-
less and violently kept secret formula. By the same token, if we
breathed our last in tonight’s sleep, the heirs and assigns of Dr. Johann
Gottlieb Benjamin Siegert – one-time surgeon in Bleucher’s army (we
trust the Angostura receipt booklet means the Blücher who, aged and
infirm, made that incredibly severe forced march to aid Wellington,
and even though he was “late,” nevertheless added the vital crushing
effect against Napoleon at Waterloo) – should lower all house flags
at half mast for the vats of their liquid we have consumed, or caused
to be consumed in our warped and intermittent career.
Let it never be said that so starry-eyed a devotee at the Angostura
shrine would ever claim that their “world’s best kept secret” had ever
crept out into light of day, in spite of the 7 people – all members of
the Siegert family – who have courted insomnia and shattered nervous
tone guarding it from profane eyes of a mercenary and covetous world
all those 115 years since 1824! According to the book of Angostura,
3 of these are still alive and active, and we hope our favourite male
actor Frank Morgan is one of them – as the rumour goes.
Angostura was originated as a tonic, a simple to ward off fevers,
miasmas, tropical swamp mists, and the general assortment of mauve
willies that beset Nordics under the equator – and the content of
quinine or cinchona definitely had virtue along this line. However,
as is so often the case with truly worth-while ventures, fate stuck her
tongue in cheek, and decreed that the bitters invented for health should
prove not only to be one of the best titillaters of the jaded appetite, but
by far the best priceless ingredient in all sorts of cocktails and mixed
drinks; as well as in many of the tastiest exotic food receipts we have
sampled around the world.
Actually there are 6 main kinds of bitters sold on the open market:
Angostura, orange, Peychaud’s, Calisaya, Amer Picon, and Boker’s.
Hell-Fire Bitters or Cayenne Wine, are local semi-amateur tropical
creations. Peach bitters, Boonekamp’s and others may be found in
first flight provision houses catering in hard-to-find, and usually im-
ported oddments of drink and good food. Of all these Angostura is
by far the most important. We now append a formula for Trinidad
bitters we had given us by a friend who lived in Port of Spain, and
which dated many years back into an old publication he had dis-
covered among some family accumulations in settling an estate. The
old text claimed this to be the leaked-out secret formula for Angostura,
but of course we cannot confirm this as being true without verifica-
tion from the Siegert clan – which is about as likely as we would tee
up our right eyeball fur a shot over the water hole at Del Monte!
We will say this though: our own pharmacy supplied us with all the
ingredients over 2 years ago: Those that weren’t ground or pounded
fine we reduced to that state in a small kitchen mortar we own. The
rest, the blending with spirits, was easy; the result was an inconceiv-
ably more economical form of bitters with the same flavour, action
and virtue.

Cinchona bark, 8 drachms Camomile Bowers, 2 drachms
Lemon peel, 2 drachms Bark cinnamon, 1/2 drachm
Orange peel, 2 drachms Raisins, 1/4 lb
Cardamon seeds, shelled and Best grain alcohol, 2 qts
crushed, 1/2 drachm

All ingredients must be ground or pounded fine except the raisins,
and these are first chopped fine, then mixed thoroughly with every-
thing else. Seal tightly in a 2 qt jar and pour in enough of the finest
grain alcohol obtainable, to fill-which will be a scant 2 qts. Let stand
at an even, fairly warm temperature for 6 weeks, stirring or shaking
vigorously twice every day. Strain, then strain through a cloth; press-
ing at the last to extract essentials from the sediment. Stir and strain
once more, and bottle for use. Bon chance, Messieurs.

1947 P. Castex: Guia del barman. Seite 127. Angostura.

Corteza de angostura . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 gramos
. ” de naranjas amargas . . . . . . 20 ”
. ” de canela . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 ”
. ” de quina . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 ”
Habas tonca . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 ”
Raíces de galanga . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 ”
Jengibre . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 ”
Clavillo de especia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 ”
Se hace digerir durante algunos días en un litro de alcohol
de 50 grados, todo unido.
Se puede agregar facultativamente: corteza de cedoaria,
remevos de casia, raíz de gemiano, corteza de calisaya, corteza
de limón, camamila, etc.

explicit capitulum
*

About

Hi, I'm Armin and in my spare time I want to promote bar culture as a blogger, freelance journalist and Bildungstrinker (you want to know what the latter is? Then check out "About us"). My focus is on researching the history of mixed drinks. If I have ever left out a source you know of, and you think it should be considered, I look forward to hearing about it from you to learn something new. English is not my first language, but I hope that the translated texts are easy to understand. If there is any incomprehensibility, please let me know so that I can improve it.

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