The next time you order a Manhattan, Singapore Sling, Mai Thai or OId Fashioned, watch how the bar person inevitably reaches for Angostura Bitters, the indispensable ingredient in any bar, which has a rich and interesting history. Six years short of its 200 anniversary, The House of Angostura continues to blend its secret aromatic recipe of over 40 ingredients with 44.7 percent alcohol by volume, originally developed as an elixir to cure soldiers’ stomach ailments.
Dr Johan Siegert left Germany in 1820 to settle in the Venezuelan town of Angostura where he served as the surgeon general in the army of Simon Bolivar, the military and political leader who liberated several South American sovereign states from Spanish rule.
By 1850 Siegert was exporting Angostura to London, the Caribbean and North America as the first cocktail recipes were emerging, calling for bitters as a key ingredient. 25 years later the family business was moved to the island of Trinidad and Tobago, just off the northeast coast of Venezuela.