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THE STORY OF ANGOSTURA® BITTERS

"Within lies the history of a great product Angostura aromatic bitters; a product that has withstood the test of time, has remained a secret formula, has affected trade policies through its reclassification initiatives, and is today known as "the taste that flavors the world"

History of Angostura

1824

Dr. Siegert perfects the formula for aromatic bitters – "AMARGO AROMATICO" to use in his medical practice as Surgeon General to the armies of Simon Bolivar. He resided in the town of Angostura in Venezuela, this town is now called Ciudad Bolivar.

1875

By 1875 the family business moves to Trinidad, now being run by Carlos, Alfredo and Luis Siergert sons of Dr. Siergert - company called Dr. J.G.B. Siegert & Hijos. Bitters manufacturing commences in a small factory in Port of Spain, Trinidad. Angostura bitters now being sold internationally.... More

1903

Carlos Siegert died leaving Alfredo Siegert and his youngest brother, Luis, in possession of the formula and the firm. By 1904, Alfredo Siegert was appointed purveyor of Angostura aromatic bitters to the king of Prussia and in 1907 to King Alfonso XIII of Spain. In 1909, the partnership of J.G.B Siegert & Hijos was converted into a public limited liability company registered in England. In 1912 the company was appointed purveyors of AAB to his majesty King George V.

1921

Angostura Bitters (Dr. J.G.B Siegert & Sons) Limited was formed on August 30, 1921. In 1992, the company changes its name to Angostura Limited which name it retains to date.

1949

Trinidad Distillers Limited is established, a state of the art multi-column commercial distillery located in Laventille. Although rum blending began as far back at the 1900s by the Siegert’s, the company stepped up its expertise in 1936 when Robert Siegert, a qualified chemist joined the company. Additional skills were added in 1942 when Albert Clyde Gomez, a sugar technologist joined the company, and in 1944 when Thomas Gatcliffe, an industrial chemist joined the company all now in place to position the company as a leader in the manufacture of fine rum.

1955

The company appointed manufacturers of Angostura aromatic bitters to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. This followed the 1952 appointment of as manufacturers of Angostura aromatic bitters to His Majesty King Gustav VI Adolph of Sweden.

1971

Trinidad Distillers Limited (TDL) now largest non-oil exporter in Trinidad & Tobago winning the Prime Ministers’ Exporter of the year trophy in 1972 for bulk rum exports. Angostura rum brand White Oak successfully marketed in Trinidad. By 1973, Fernandes Distillers Limited is acquired. In 1985 Angostura Limited became the proud recipient of a National Award, the Humming Bird Gold Medal, for its contribution to industry in Trinidad and Tobago, the first company to be so honoured.

1997

The CL Financial Group, acquires 78% of Angostura Holdings Limited. Company engaged in series of international drink company acquisitions. By 2003, CL World Brands is formed to market and distribute rum and bitters internationally.

2010

Domestic rum marketing positioning enhanced, new packaging and premiumisation strategy leads to super sales performance. Company now an established niche player in the international rum market and wins many rum awards globally. Angostura aromatic bitters still the global leader now sold in 165 global markets.

2011

Andy Griffiths of Melbourne Australia wins the Angostura® aromatic bitters Global Cocktail Challenge and becomes the Global Brand Ambassador for Angostura® aromatic bitters.

2012

Angostura launches a limited edition bottle and gift canister for Angostura® aromatic bitters to celebrate HM Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee anniversary.

2013

Club 23 bartender Joel Heffernan of Melbourne, Australia crafts the world's most expensive cocktail the "Winston" beating Salvatore Calabrese's "Legacy" into second place. Both drinks contain Angostura® aromatic bitters. The "Winston" is valued at £8,167 per drink.

History of the Cocktail

There are many stories about the origins of the Cocktail as there are varieties. It is believed that one can look as far back as the 1500's and find evidence of the mixing of drinks. Ultimately, what we know for sure is that Angostura® aromatic bitters has played an integral role in building cocktail culture. Here we summarize a few key dates in the history of the cocktail that we believe have helped to shape the mixology industry today.

Definition of the Cocktail [The Balance and Columbian Repository, 1806] - The Cocktail is a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water and bitters.

The name "Cocktail" itself is believed to have derived from the "Cock's Ale" meaning a concoction of liquor, which quickly became the "Cock's Tale", referring to the incredible stories which often began to accompany the serving of these concoctions, as told by the local bar-keep. Ultimately, today it is simply known as the "Cocktail".

See Timeline

Fun Facts

1. Did you know that Angostura® aromatic bitters stains if spilt on clothes, cloth, wood or any other surface and if left to dry you will not be able to remove the stain.

2. A lady was spotted in a restaurant rubbing Angostura® aromatic bitters on her legs. When asked why she was doing this she replied: did you not know that this is the best mosquito repellent? It keeps away all the mosquitoes!

3. Angostura® aromatic bitters is not bitter when added to food & drinks - bitters is simply the generic category for products made from gentian, aromatic herbs and spices.

4. Many stories surround why the label ended up being too large for the bottle but probably the most well known is that it was simply a result of the laid back Caribbean attitude. When someone ordered the wrong size of label and the mistake was spotted, everyone thought someone else would correct it. When no one did, they decided to stick with the oversized label rather than change it and so it became the trade mark of the brand.

5. Another label story‚ is that one guy went out to buy the bottle and another guy was sent to buy a label. When they met back at the office they realized that the label was too big but time was running out so they decided to just make it work.

6. Angostura® aromatic bitters is the recipient of the Royal Warrant of the appointment to the Queen of England. This distinction is a prestigious one that is only granted by royal grace and favour to firms that have achieved excellence and have maintained the highest standard of quality. In fact, the Royal Warrant has been held by the company during several reigns.

7. Angostura® aromatic bitters is an essential bar ingredient. The mere presence of Angostura® aromatic bitters is an indication of sophistication. There would hardly be a top quality bar or restaurant with any pretension to style anywhere in the world that would not have a bottle of Angostura ® aromatic bitters on its shelf.

8. Angostura® aromatic bitters is also indispensable in the kitchen; subtly marrying flavours, enhancing and enriching, turning every meal into an unexpected experience; a bottle of Angostura ® aromatic bitters in the kitchen is a hallmark of a good cook.

9. Angostura® aromatic bitters works by enhancing the flavour of other ingredients in food & drink preparations- it brings out the best flavours in them without masking their personality; it adds a unique but subtle flavour of its own.

10. Angostura® aromatic bitters tempers the acidity of citrus ingredients. This is particularly important for those who are acid sensitive.

11. Jamie Boudreau, owner of Canon Bar in Seattle, WA, used 3 cases of 16oz Angostura® aromatic bitters to stain and decorate the inside of his bar in August, 2011. This makes Canon Bar possibly the first bar in the world to have all its wooden furniture and fittings stained with bitters


Dr. Johann Gottlieb Benjamin Siegert: 1796 - 1870

Johann Gottlieb Benjamin Siegert was born in 1796 at GroB-Walditz in Silesia, Germany. He studied medicine at the University of Berlin, then the capital of Prussia. The young doctor joined the 2nd Regiment of the Prussian army, one among the allies who fought against the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. He saw active service as army surgeon under the command of General von Blücher.

Dr. Johann Gottlieb Benjamin Siegert, in the period after the Napoleonic wars, journeyed to South America, where he enlisted in the wars of liberation. Simon Bolivar, the great liberator, appointed him Surgeon General to his army, stationed on the Orinoco River in Venezuela at the town of Angostura. Dr. Siegert relied on the herbs and plants of the region for his cures.

The early 19th century maritime trade was active and converged on the town of Angostura, an active trading post, accommodating ships from all over the world. Many a sailor’s stomach ailment was cured by Dr. Siegert and his magical Amargo Aromatico.

Trinidad and Tobago, officially the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, is the most southerly isle of the Caribbean, just 10% north of the Equator, lying just off the coast of northeastern Venezuela. The true Caribbean, Trinidad and Tobago, offers a unique experience like no other, as these Caribbean islands are rich in history, culture, and biodiversity.

The country covers an area 5,128 square kilometres (1,980 sq miles) and consists of two main islands, Trinidad and Tobago. Trinidad is the larger and more populous of the islands, comprising about 94% of the total area and 96% of the total population of the country. The nation lies outside the hurricane belt.

The island of Trinidad was a Spanish colony from the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1498 to the capitulation of the Spanish Governor, Don José Maria Chacón, on the arrival of a British fleet of 18 warships on 18 February 1797. During the same period, the island of Tobago changed hands between Spanish, British, French, and Dutch colonizers. Trinidad and Tobago was ceded to Britain in 1802 under the Treaty of Amiens. The country obtained independence in 1962, becoming a republic in 1976. Unlike most of the English-speaking Caribbean, the country's economy is primarily industrial, with an emphasis on petroleum and petrochemicals. It is well known for its Carnival, and is the birthplace of steelpan, calypso, soca, and limbo.

Dr. J.G.B Siegert's signature is seen between the obverse and the reverse of the Medal of Excellence, achieved at the Grand Exhibition at Vienna in 1873. This was done to show authenticity of the products as many imitators began to appear claiming to have Angostura bitters. The success of the product on the international market had begun...

MARK TWAIN'S
LETTER TO LIVY- 1874

Mark's rave over the Angostura bitters cocktail

Livy, my darling

I want you to be sure to have in the bathroom,
when I arrive,
a bottle of scotch whisky, a lemon,
some crushed sugar
and a bottle of Angostura Bitters.
Ever since I have been in London,
I have taken in a wine glass
what is a so-called cock-tail (made with these ingredients)
before breakfast, before dinner,
and just before going to bed...

To this I attribute the fact that up to this day
my digestion has been wonderful,
simply perfect...

Now, my dear, if you will give the order now
To have these things put into the bathroom
And left there ‘til I come,
They will be there when I arrive.
Will you?

I love to picture myself ringing the bell, at midnight –
Then a pause of a second or two-
Then the turning of the bolt,
And “Who is it?”....
then ever so many kisses –
Then I, drinking my first cock-tail and undressing, and you standing by- then bed,
and everything happy and jolly,
as it should be.

Yours with love
Mark

Carlos Siegert: 1830 - 1903

Carlos Siegert was born in 1830 in Angostura (now Ciudad Bolivar) in Venezuela. Although Dr. Siegert’s bitters found its way to England as far back as the 1830’s, Carlos is credited with introducing Angostura aromatic bitters to the world in 1862 when he exhibited in London, he was amongst the first of the world’s global marketeers. By 1879 he had introduced bitters to trade fairs in Philadelphia and in Australia.

Alfredo Siegert: 1847 - 1919

Robert Siegert

Albert Clyde Gomez

Thomas Gatcliffe

Angostura Limited is a proud holder of a Royal Warrant, first presented in 1912 under King George V of England and under several other monarchs of different nations. It was granted under several reigns of the British monarchy and until this day, by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

The prestigious distinction is awarded by royal grace and favour, to firms whose products are excellent and of the highest standard of quality.

Angostura remains the only company in Trinidad & Tobago, the Caribbean and Latin America to hold a Royal Warrant.

Over the years, Joseph Fernandes ensured that his father's legacy of Portuguese descent, remained in the minds of the people of Trinidad and Tobago. He acquired the Forres Park Sugar Estate and started distilling other rums, producing profitable brands like Fernandes black label, Vat 19 and Ferdi’s. The Angostura legacy continued with the establishment of Trinidad Distillers Ltd. as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the House of Angostura, in 1949, and when Fernandes Distilleries were acquired by the company in 1973, their expertise in rum making, took the manufacturing icon to another level.

Awards History

Rum Masters Awards – The Spirits Business 2011 annual

The Grand Master in the Rum Category – Angostura range of Rums – Angostura 1824, Angostura 1919, Angostura 3 year old, 5 year old and 7 year old

San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2011

  • Angostura® 1919 - Double Gold Medal
  • Angostura® 5 Year Old - Double Gold Medal
  • Angostura® 1824 - Silver Medal
  • Angostura® 7 Year Old - Silver Medal
  • Angostura® Reserva - Bronze Medal

Rum Masters Awards - The Spirits Business 2011

  • Angostura® 1824 - Masters Medal
  • Angostura® 7 Year Old - Masters Medal
  • Angostura® 1919 - Gold Medal
  • Angostura® 5 Year Old - Gold Medal
  • Angostura® Reserva - Gold Medal

The Spirits Business Rum Masters 2010

  • Angostura® 1824 - Gold Medal
  • Angostura® 5 Year Old - Gold Medal
  • Angostura® Reserva - Gold Medal

San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2010

  • Angostura® 7 Year Old - Double Gold Medal
  • Angostura® Reserva - Silver Medal

The Spirits Business Rum Masters 2009

  • Angostura® 7 Year Old - Gold Medal

San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2009

  • Angostura® 1824 Best Rum - Double Gold Medal
  • Angostura® 5 Year Old - Double Gold Medal
  • Angostura® 1919 - Gold Medal

International Spirits Challenge 2009

  • Angostura® 7 Year Old - Gold Medal
  • Angostura® 5 Year Old - Silver Medal
  • Angostura® Reserva - Silver Medal

International Wine & Spirits Competition 2009

  • Angostura® 1824 - Gold Medal (Best in Class)
  • Angostura® 7 Year Old - Silver Medal (Best in Class)
  • Angostura® 5 Year Old - Silver Medal (Best in Class)
  • Angostura® Reserva - Silver Medal