What are Bitters?

Aromatic Bitters are a highly concentrated food and beverage flavouring made from herbal essences, spices and gentian. Highly favoursome, Angostura aromatic bitters, are made from a secret formula containing a unique blend of natural herbs and spices. (Of note, Angostura aromatic bitters does not contain Angostura Tree Bark, see the below History)

Angostura bitters is used to flavour a wide variety of foods and beverages. It is the key ingredient in the iconic Lemon Lime and Bitters over the bar mix drink.


The legend begins with Johann Gottlieb Benjamin Siegert.

Originally from Germany, Johann Siegert, a doctor of medicine, left his homeland in 1820, the call of adventure ringing in his ears. He was bound for Venezuela, to join with Simon Bolivar in his fight against the Spanish throne. Bolivar then appointed him SurgeoN-General of the Military Hospital in the town of Angostura.

Dr Siegert had seen soldiers batter by -the enemies from without and within and by severe fevers and internal stomach disorders. He was determined to wrest a cure from nature itself and after four years of trial and error, researching and analysing the qualities of tropical herbs and plants, he finally arrived at a unique blend of herbs which he called “Amargo Aromatico” or aromatic bitters. The year was 1824, from these humble beginnings an international industry was soon to rise.

It was a period of great maritime activity in the Caribbean. The town of Angostura on the banks of the Orinoco River, was an important trading post. Ships came into this port from all over the world, their sailors often complaining of sea-sickness. From the residents, they soon learned of the restorative qualities of Dr. Siegert’s remedies and of Angostura® aromatic bitters began its continuing trip around the world. Dr. Siegert was encouraged to think of producing his bitters on a commercial scale.

In 1830, Dr. Siegert exported his unique aromatic bitters to England and Trinidad. By 1850, he had resigned his commission in the Venezuelan army, to concentrate on the manufacture of his bitters, since by then demand had leapt ahead of supply. By the time Dr. Siegert died in 1870, his reputation and that of his Angostura® aromatic bitters were internationally established.

Dr. J.G.B. Sieger t& Hijo, a partnership with his son, Carlos, was established in 1867 by Dr. Siegert. Two years after the death of Dr. Siegert, the name was changed to Dr. J.G.B. Siegert & Hijos, to include younger brother, Alfredo Siegert.

Don Carlos, as Carlos became known, recognised that he was in possession of the secret to a unique product. Bon vivant, impeccable in his dress and manners, he was among the first advertisers.

He exhibited in London in 1862 and sampled his product. It was applauded with gin, the monotony of which was forever altered. It became the magic ingredient, to be used in exotic concoctions. He continued to exhibit in Paris in 1867, then in Vienna in 1873. He visited Philadelphia in the United States in 1876 and Australia in 1879. The hallmark of Angostura® aromatic bitters was firmly established.

Angostura aromatic bitter, are today, the flagship of Angostura Ltd. A multibillion dollar company based in Trinidad. Distilled in Trinidad using the secret recipe from 1824-the same blend of herbs and spices. It has retained is original formulation-one of the few remaining trade secrets Distributed to over 140 countries across the world.

Information Courtesy of Angostura Ltd.

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