When I was studying in the USA it seemed that every bar had Angostura bitters on its shelves. I realized that to Americans this tiny bottle was seen as a cocktail ingredient. How so very different from here in Trinidad where Angostura bitters is a staple in every kitchen, and is used to flavour everything from soups, to roasts, to ice cream! Growing up a few drops of Angostura in a glass of warm water was used to rectify everything from nausea to upset stomachs. Was there anything that this little brown bottle couldn’t do?
Today the ‘House of Angostura’ is a local culinary landmark and has branched out to make rum, sodas, soy sauce and more. At the National Museum you can see how the original bitters bottle and labels (and health claims) changed through the years, and the Angostura factory complex is open to tours. But what exactly is Angostura bitters?
According to the official Angostura bitters website:
“Distilled in Trinidad, using the secret recipe from 1824, and the same natural blend of herbs and spices, Angostura aromatic bitters is versatile beyond belief. It has retained its original formulation, one of the few remaining true trade secrets, an international brand that over the centuries has continued to flavour the world. Read the label, which is itself perfect.It will give you an insight to the product, with suggestions from savoury sauces to cakes,through crispy vegetables, meats and cocktails.”
Sounds good to me! So next time you are in a supermarket and you see this little bottle realize that there is much more to it than cocktails. Try some, you won’t regret it!
Random Factoid: Nelsen’s Hall on Washington Island, Wisconsin, USA is the largest purveyor of Angostura Bitters in the world!