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The U.S.'s Bygone Angostura Autarky

Filed under: Looked Into   Tagged: , ,

Jonathan Taylor writes:

Edge of the American West has helped us catch up with the Angostura Bitters shortage of 2009–10, since we've been taking a bit of a break from the cocktail-shaking scene.

If only Angostura, now a division of Bacardi, were still manufacturing its concentrate for U.S. distribution in Jersey City, as it was at the time of a 1934 Talk piece about the secret recipe, protected by the evasive wiles of the then custodian, Alfredo Galo Siegert:

It takes eight months to make Angostura Bitters. "After the first four months, we do different things for the next four months," Mr. Siegert told us in a burst of confidence.

But you don't need fancy bitters to make an authentically pre-Prohibition mixed drink. The 1910 Siegert-sponsored Complete Mixing Guide at my elbow contains numerous recipes using the bitters, but also a ton of others, mostly with this rough structure:

Use whiskey glass.

Allow customer to help himself to bourbon or rye whiskey, then fill glass with milk.

Here's to Monday! For more on alcohol in The New Yorker, see this New Year's entry in the Back Issues blog.

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