20 best Angostura Bitters cocktails

Words by Simon Difford

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I've heard it said, "You can tell a newly opened cocktail bar is successful when they need a second bottle of Angostura." Over 500 cocktails on this website include Angostura Aromatic Bitters in their recipe and, whether in the distinctive bottle with its oversized label or decanted into a curvy Japanese bitters bottle, pretty much every cocktail bar in the world has Angostura.

Convention, and indeed UK Customs & Excise, has it that Angostura Aromatic Bitters are only consumed in drops and dashes. Hence, although Angostura Aromatic Bitters have a whopping 44.7% alcohol-by-volume, they are exempt from alcohol duty due to being considered unpotable. Well, not according to Charles H. Baker Jr.'s 1939 travelogue, The Gentleman's Companion, which includes a recipe for "The Angostura Fizz, sometimes called the Trinidad Fizz", a cocktail with "1 pony of Angostura bitters", equivalent to around 30ml or 1 fluid ounce.

As Baker Jr. so eloquently explains, "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 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 recipes we have sampled around the world."

Angostura Aromatic Bitters are indeed a tasty addition to many dishes and in Trinidad, the home of Angostura, they douse just about everything, including ice-cream with lashings of bitters. And judging by the video which accompanies one of our members uploaded cocktails, cheesecake and Angostura is a particularly delicious combination.

But dear Discerning Drinker, Difford's Guide is about cocktails rather than food recipes and this page is dedicated to those that include Angostura, some with shots than mere dashes...

With 15ml (½oz) to 45ml (1½oz) of Angostura

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Trinidad Sour
With: Angostura Aromatic Bitters, rye whiskey, orgeat syrup and lemon juice.
We say: This deep lurid reddy-brown cocktail won't be to everybody's taste but that's only to be expected with one-and-a-half shots of bitters. However, if you like cough candy then perhaps this cocktail is for you.

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Trinidad Especial
With: Angostura Aromatic Bitters, pisco, orgeat syrup and lime juice.
We say: This deep reddy-brown bittersweet drink is based upon sweet almond syrup balancing bitter notes from the Angostura and lime tartness. With a whole shot of Angostura, this cocktail is most unusual.

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Dutchess
With: Angostura Aromatic Bitters, genever, pineapple juice, lemon juice and orgeat syrup.
We say: One of those Angostura heavy (very heavy) cocktails intuition says just shouldn't work (the name's misspelt for starters), but thanks to the rich balancing properties of almond syrup and pineapple it is not only balanced but good. The genever base justifies the name and adds its distinctive character.

With generous dashes of Angostura

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Sawyer
With: Angostura Aromatic Bitters, dry gin, lime juice, sugar syrup, Creole-style bitters and Orange Bitters by Angostura.
We say: A whopping 28 dashes of bitters allowing with two full measures of gin makes for a robust cocktail.

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Bitter Jean
With: Angostura Aromatic Bitters, Speyside single malt Scotch whisky, Islay single malt Scotch whisky, blackcurrant liqueur and Antica Formula.
We say: Scotch malt whisky, and particularly Islay single malt balance and work brilliantly with rich crème de cassis and Antica Formula, helped by a generous dose of Trinidadian bitters.

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Jimmie Roosevelt
With: Angostura Aromatic Bitters, sugar cube, cognac, sugar syrup, brut champagne and Green Chartreuse.
We say: A frappé version of the Classic Champagne Cocktail which is given extra interest courtesy of a Chartreuse float.

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Tiki Max
With: Angostura Aromatic Bitters, Navy rum, light rum, orange cognac liqueur, apricot brandy, orgeat syrup, lime juice, pineapple juice, orange juice and Wood's 100 rum.
We say: The drink breaks the golden rule – simple is beautiful. However, it's tasty and packs a punch.

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Queen's Park Swizzle
With: Angostura Aromatic Bitters, mint leaves, light rum, lime juice and demerara sugar.
We say: This close relation to the Mojito is drier, more complex and tad less minty than its sibling.

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Queen's Park Hotel Super Cocktail
With: Angostura Aromatic Bitters, light rum, sweet vermouth, lime juice and grenadine syrup.
We say: Perhaps best described as being a Trinidadian Daiquiri due to its heavy use of Angostura Bitters.

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Lemon Lime & Bitters
With: Angostura Aromatic Bitters, grenadine syrup, lime syrup, sweet vermouth and light rum.
We say: Very popular in Australia, beleived to be were this non-alcoholic cocktail originated.

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Velours de France
With: Angostura Aromatic Bitters, cognac, vanilla liqueur, orgeat syrup, lime juice and pasteurised egg white.
We say: Almond and vanilla liqueur combine harmoniously with cognac with lime juice and bitters adding freshness and balance.

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Death In The Gulf Stream
With: Angostura Aromatic Bitters, genever, lime juice, sugar syrup and zest of lime.
We say:Remembering that Hemingway was a diabetic so had a very sour tooth, we believe this drink needs more than 'one teaspoon' of sugar.

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Pink Gin
With: Angostura Aromatic Bitters, dry gin, chilled water and sugar syrup.
We say: Hit the perfect balance and dilution and this is a great drink, but it's an equilibrium that's tricky to attain.

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Brandy Sour
With: Angostura Aromatic Bitters, cognac, lemon juice, sugar syrup and pasteurised egg white.
We say: After the Whisky Sour, this is the most requested sour. Try it and you'll see why – but don't omit the egg white.

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The Malagueña
With: Angostura Aromatic Bitters, dark rum, amaro, agave syrup and Orange Bitters by Angostura.
We say: Bittersweet, dark pungent rum is lightly sweetened and aromatised and bittered amaro and bitters duo. A sharpener of an aperitivo.

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Whiskey Sour
With: Angostura Aromatic Bitters, bourbon, lemon juice, sugar syrup and pasteurised egg white.
We say: I find the classic formulation more sweet than sour and prefer the 4:2:8 ratio.

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Manhattan Island
With: Angostura Aromatic Bitters, sweet vermouth, maraschino liqueur and cognac.
We say: A twist on the classic Harvard, or brandy-based Manhattan.

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Pink Gin & Tonic
With: Angostura Aromatic Bitters, dry gin and tonic water.
We say: Basically a G&T with an extra pep of flavour from bitters, this has a broader appeal than the original Pink Gin.

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Brooklyn's Finest
With: Angostura Aromatic Bitters, cognac, rye whiskey, amaro and falernum liqueur.
We say: Manhattan-esque, boozy and delicately spiced.

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Elixir Tropical
With: Angostura Aromatic Bitters, light rum, lime juice, orgeat syrup, maraschino liqueur and mint leaves.
We say: There's a load of orgeat (almond syrup) in this Daiquiri-style cocktail but it's only just on the sweet side of balanced with that almond richness contributing to its Tiki character.

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