Essential Ingredient


The behemoth of the category, Angostura, doesn’t rest on its laurels, it’s seen cocktail booms come and go. The brand always promoted itself heavily as a food ingredient, and recently sponsored the Cochon 555 consumer foodie festival tour in the US. It’s not widely known that Angostura additionally built a significant business as a prepared-foods ingredient. Its aromatic bitters are added as flavouring agents to a wide range of supermarket prepared foods and sauces, and if you ask nicely you can buy it in five-gallon drums instead of 118ml bottles. One bar owner, Jamie Boudreau, did just that so he had enough Angostura bitters to paint the wood in his award-winning bar, Canon in Seattle. Its quite a beautiful red colour, in case you’re wondering, and it took about three gallons.

The food focus makes business sense. Because all cocktail bitters are classed as ‘non-potable’, although alcoholic they can be sold through both alcohol and grocery distribution channels. In a final example of not putting all your eggs in one basket, Angostura now sells a canned premix of LLB, the ultra-low-alcohol lemonade, lime and bitters drink popular in Australia.

Bitter Truth and Bittermens have expanded into producing liquors, liqueurs, syrups and cocktail mixes ranging from pimento dram to aquavit to bitter lemon. Indeed, interest in bitters is so high that Sazerac acquired a strategic interest in Bittermens last year.

We are deep in the second Golden Age of cocktails, and it seems even Gavin may have to get a few more bottles of bitters in.