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Angostura Orange Bitters

Bitter(s) Review: Angostura Orange Bitters   (83/100)
Review by Chip Dykstra (Aka The Rum Howler)
Published September 16, 2019

Angostura Aromatic Bitters were first produced in 1824, in the town of Angostura (now Ciudad Bolívar, Venezuela) by Dr. Johann Siegert who created his aromatic bitters as a medicinal treatment to alleviate digestive and stomach ailments. In the 1870’s the brand was moved to Trinidad, where Johann Siegert’s son, Don Carlos established the aromatic bitters as a complementary ingredient for cocktails and in food.

Angostura Orange Bitters were launched in 2007 providing an innovative new flavour of bitters for cocktail enthusiasts.

According to the company website:

Made from its own special recipe, ANGOSTURA® orange bitters is a complex blend of tropical oranges and spices. “The soul of an exceptional dry martini”; it is wonderfully versatile and pairs perfectly with vodka, gin and whisky. It also adds a depth of flavour to rum cocktails …

The Orange Bitters from Angostura arrive in the the same style of bottle as the previously reviewed Angostura Aromatic Bitters. As you can see from my photo to the left, the label is taller than the cylindrical portion of the bottle which means that when you see the bitters on someone’s bar, the top portion of the label is likely to be compressed or folded down to the shape of the neck.  I admit I dislike the look of the oversized label on the small medicine bottle which looks messy and unkempt. However the look has become iconic, and my views are unlikely to sway anyone associated with the Angostura Brand regarding a change in presentation.

When I put a small amount of the Orange Bitters on my tongue I immediately note a sharp taste of orange zest. (In fact, Angostura makes the claim that their bitters can be used as a substitute for orange zest for cooking and baking.) There is a very dry characteristic to the zesty flavour almost as if the bitters contain some sort of dry alkali spice as well as a light menthol characteristic. These are secondary impressions to be sure as orange zest dominates the bitters.

When mixing drinks, it is important to remember that the intense orange zest found in Angostura’s Orange Bitters will likely push though the cocktail to some extent. Judicious use of the bitters is paramount with only a drop or two required in most servings. Those servings include martinis and fruity cocktails made with Gin, Vodka or White Rum. Manhattans and Old Fashioned Cocktails are also suggested as suitable starting points for the aspiring bartender.  (I will admit that in those Manhattans and Old Fashioned Cocktails (made with Rum or Whisky) I found I much preferred Angostura’s Aromatic Bitters combined with a real orange peel, rather than Angostura’s Orange Bitters.)

I settled upon a score of 83/100 which recognizes the sharp bold flavour of Angostura Orange Bitters and their versatility with respect to the wide variety of spirits and cocktails styles they are suitable for. I did temper the score however as these bitters are somewhat one dimensional in those bar drinks, and in many of those cocktails I prefer the Aromatic Bitters instead.

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Suggested Serving

My suggested cocktail demonstrates the heretical idea that mixing two spirits of different ages and characters within one cocktail can yield wonderful results as well. My recipe combines the slightly rougher Cabresto Reposado Tequila with the more full flavoured Cabresto Extra Anejo Tequila (advertised as a seven-year-old spirit).

Although some of my critics may insist that mixing a wonderful sipping tequila with its younger sibling in a sour style cocktail is a heresy; I counter with the observation that the results especially when using the Orange Bitters from Angostura are delicious!

El Hereje
(the Mexican Heretic)

1 oz  Cabresto Reposado Tequila
1 oz Cabresto Don Silver Exta Anejo Tequila
1 oz fresh Orange Juice
1/2 oz fresh Lemon Juice
1/4 oz Sugar Syrup (1:1 ratio)
2 dashes Angostura Orange Bitters
Ice
Lemon Slice

Add the first six ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice
Shake until the outside of the shaker begins to frost
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass
Garnish with a lemon slice

Please Enjoy Responsibly!

If  you are interested in more of my original cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!

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You may (loosely) interpret the scores I provide as follows:

0-50 A concoction which if it doesn’t kill you will make you very ill indeed!
50-59 Not deadly, but not really useful either.
60-69 Limited appeal but useful for some cocktail styles.
70-79 Useful and versatile
80-89 Excellent/bold flavour enhancement for a variety of cocktails
90-94 A must-have addition to your home bar
95+ Turns your cocktail into the Elixir of the Gods!

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be more familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal
90 – 95         Gold Medal
95.5+            Platinum Award

 

 
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