The famous Angostura aromatic bitters. For many, this may have been one of the first ‘fancier’ ingredients picked up when venturing into the world of “craft cocktails,” and for good reason, it’s a workhorse that will take your plain uninspired cocktail to new heights! You can think of bitters to cocktails as spices are to food…you don’t need much, but a dash will transform your creation and totally maximize its natural flavors and really tie the final product together.
Bitters started out a couple hundred years ago originally as a type of medicine to aid with digestive issues, created by combining strong herbs/roots/etc with a high proof spirit to form a potent bitter concoction. Today Angostura is bottled at 44.7% ABV, which puts it on par (or exceeds) many spirits! However, in the US it’s legally considered “nonpotable” in the same realm as vanilla/nut extracts and such. That said, in recent years there have been many creative cocktail interpretations utilizing bitters as the base that are absolutely FANTASTIC – see Trinidad Sour for one of these recipes. With its distinctive trademark oversized paper label (which came into existence in error due to a coordination oversight for a design competition), Angostura is the gold standard for bitters and something that every home bar needs.