The story of ANGOSTURA® aromatic bitters is a journey through time. It started in 1824, when founder Dr. Johann Siegert first produced aromatic bitters as a medicinal tincture designed to alleviate stomach ailments. In the 1870’s, Dr. Siegert’s three sons migrated to Trinidad, among them Don Carlos Siegert, who pioneered the brand, establishing ANGOSTURA® aromatic bitters as an integral ingredient in cocktails and in food. The rest, as they say, is history. ANGOSTURA® aromatic bitters is today a staple for bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts, professional and home cooks alike, bounded only by the creativity and imaginations of those who use it.
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Born 1796, Johann Gottlieb Benjamin Siegert, (later Dr. Johann Siegert), would became a pioneer in the bitters industry. Dr. Siegert lived in the town of Angostura, Venezuela with his family, moving there from Germany in 1820 to serve as the Surgeon General of the armies of Simón Bolívar. By 1824, he perfected the formula for "AMARGO AROMATICO" used in his medical practice as as a medical elixir for the soldiers.
Dr. Siegert began exporting ANGOSTURA® aromatic bitters to England, the Caribbean and the USA. A few years earlier, the first cocktail recipe was published, calling for the use of bitters. Dr. Siegert's timing was perfect. Hovering on the cusp of the Golden Age of the Cocktail, the use of ANGOSTURA® aromatic bitters as a key ingredient in cocktails was about to take the world by storm.
By 1875 the family business moved to Trinidad and was run by Carlos, Alfredo and Luis Siegert, sons of Dr. Siegert, under the name J.G.B Siegert & Hijos. Bitters manufacturing commenced in Port of Spain, Trinidad. ANGOSTURA® aromatic bitters was awarded the Medal of Excellence in Vienna, Austria in 1873, and a gold medal for Product Excellence at the World Trade Fair in Philadelphia, USA in 1876. Bitters use in cocktails also continued to grow, with the Manhattan being created in 1874.
By 1900, in the midst of the Golden Age of the Cocktail, ANGOSTURA® aromatic bitters was firmly rooted into the cocktail cultures of the USA, UK and Europe. The phenomenon of "American Bars" such as the iconic Savoy Hotel in the UK (1880), and the legendary Ritz Hotel in Paris, France (1898) brought classic cocktails, and its popularity among the "glitterati" of the time, into a permanent part of global history. Cocktails such as the Old Fashioned and the Manhattan rose in popularity.
Carlos Siegert passed away, leaving Alfredo Siegert and his youngest brother, Luis, in possession of the formula and the firm. Under their direction, ANGOSTURA® aromatic bitters continued to flourish. By 1904, Alfredo Siegert was appointed purveyor of Angostura aromatic bitters to the King of Prussia and in 1907 to King Alfonso XIII of Spain.
The passing of the Pure Food & Drug Act in the US (1906), had a huge impact on the bitters industry. Bitters were no longer sold as unregulated patent medicines. Ingredient labels had to be clear, words like "cure" were removed from labels, lower alcohol limits were put in place, and the bitters business took a blow from which it never fully recovered. ANGOSTURA® aromatic bitters, however, remained strong, as its use had already changed to meet the needs of the time.
By 1912, the partnership of J.G.B Siegert & Hijos was converted into a public limited liability company registered in England. The company was also appointed direct suppliers of ANGOSTURA® aromatic bitters to His Majesty King George V. By this time, such cocktail classics as the Pink Gin, the Champagne Cocktail, Old Fashioned, the Manhattan, the Daiquiri, the Martini, among a range of others were highly popular.
The first recorded "Cocktail Party" was held in 1917. Mrs. Julius S. Walsh Jr. of St. Louis, Missouri, was reported to have invited 50 friends over to her mansion for a 1 hour party of drinking and merriment which she termed as “a Cocktail Party.” A variety of drinks were served, among those, some ANGOSTURA® aromatic bitters mainstays, such as Martinis and Manhattans. This idea was seen as an “innovation,” and Mrs. Walsh even received public praise for the idea in the newspapers.
Surviving a time of war and conflict, a dramatically changing social fabric, and the inception of the Age of Prohibition in the USA, ANGOSTURA Bitters (Dr. J.G.B Siegert & Sons) Limited was formed on August 30, 1921. In 1992, the company changed its name to ANGOSTURA Limited, the name it goes by today.
By 1933, the "Noble Experiment" came to an end, forging the way for an expanded range of classics enjoyed by then celebrities and socialites who could afford the risk and luxury of social drinking. While Prohibition raged in the US, many flocked to "friendlier" climes such as Europe leading to the growth of cocktail cultures outside of the USA. The publishing of the Savoy Cocktail Book in 1930 brought many of these classics and contemporary cocktails into wider popularity.
At the close of Prohibition, a new phenomenon came to life in the USA - Tiki culture - a direct offshoot of wartime rations on spirits, and President Roosevelt's "Good Neightbour" policy, which opened trade with Latin America, Cuba and the Caribbean, and welcomed an era of Rum and Rum cocktails. The Mai Tai created by Trader Vic in 1944, and the Queens Park Swizzle in Trinidad in 1946 are prime examples of exemplary cocktails created at the time in celebration of rum and ANGOSTURA® aromatic bitters.
While cocktail culture continued to evolve globally, the ANGOSTURA® aromatic bitters business continued to thrive. In 1955, the company was appointed manufacturers of ANGOSTURA® aromatic bitters to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Today, the brand remains the only bitters brand in the world that can present such credentials.
Promoted as a flavour enhancer for both food and cocktails since the 1920s, the popularity of ANGOSTURA® aromatic bitters in culinary applications surged in the 1960s. The launch of "The Secret of Good Taste: The Angostura Cookbook" championed the practice of adding a dash of bitters to everyday cooking to give it a splash of international flair.
By the 1980s, there was a revival in the use of bitters in bars around the world. Cocktail contemporaries such as New Yorker Dale DeGroff drove the rebirth of cocktail culture by reviving vintage cocktail recipes – most of which included ANGOSTURA® aromatic bitters. In London, the cocktail scene also enjoyed a renaissance, particularly thanks to Dick Bradsell and to the vibe at the Atlantic Bar, which became one of the British capital's trendiest places.
ANGOSTURA® orange bitters was launched worldwide as the company's first innovation in almost 200 years. Today, it is considered as one of the best orange bitters on the market. ANGOSTURA® orange bitters is the soul of an exceptional dry martini. It is a versatile bitters that works incredibly well with vodka, gin and whisky, and adds real depth of flavour to rum cocktails. Its complexity and layers of flavour also make it a culinary must-have ingredient.
A product inspired by Don Carlos Siegert, the bon vivant son of Angostura’s founder J.G.B. Siegert. Launched with great success in 2014, Amaro di ANGOSTURA® is one of the latest innovations of the House of Angostura. Amaro di ANGOSTURA® is a deep amber colour, offering aromas of cinnamon, dark chocolate and unmistakeable ANGOSTURA® aromatic bitters. Made with the Amaro lover in mind.
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