In the News: Angostura Bitters Shortage

| 1/28/2010 3:36:45 PM

A.TilsonNext time you go out for a night on the town you might want to hold off on the fancy cocktails and order something simple. The price of delectable mixed drinks, such as the classic Manhattan, have skyrocketed up to $18 in New York City as supplies of a crucial ingredient have dwindled—Angostura bitters.

According to a recent article in the New York Post, Angostura bitters are irreplaceable to bar patrons and bartenders alike because of their delicious, herbaceous flavor. Bar owners have begun to amass stockpiles of this invaluable ingredient while desperate, Angostura devotees shell out big bucks for their favorite cocktails.

simple manhattan
Photo by ilmungo/Courtesy Flickr

Angostura bitters are produced exclusively by The House of Angostura in Trinidad and Tobago and it seems that the shortage was caused by a switch in bottling manufacturers combined with financial difficulties. While the Gothamist warns that this bitter chaos could end the popularity of the cocktail craze of the last decade, don’t panic yet—production should pick up by the end of this month and then, hopefully, you can afford to go out for a Manhattan once again.

In case you can’t wait that long for your favorite cocktail, try Bitter Truth, a German brand of bitters with intriguing flavors such as grapefruit, celery and xocolatl mole.

Bitters aren’t just about fancy flavor though. In the article Bitters: Beverages with Moxie Arthur O. Tucker, Ph.D. and Susan Belsinger discuss the health benefits of these herbal blends. Popularly used as digestives and apertifs, bitters were originally created with ingredients such as angostura bark (Angostura trifoliata), cinchona (or quinine) bark (Cinchona spp.), bitter gentian root (Gentiana lutea) and/or quassia chips (Quassia amara). Today, the recipe used for Angostura bitters is a company secret, although gentian root is still used to give the bitter taste and mellowed with sweeter herbs including cinnamon, clove, lemon peel and gingerroot.