Think of Angostura bitters as the “pinch of salt” of the drinks world: a quintessential ingredient used to tie together flavors in a cocktail, it’s used almost exclusively in small doses—and rarely as the main event.
But that doesn’t necessarily need to be the case. When used as more than just a seasoner, Angostura can transform existing formulas like the gimlet, the colada and the sour into something new entirely.
This line of thinking began back when Giuseppe González first created the Trinidad Sour, which calls on a full ounce-and-a-half of Angostura. Since then, a number of bartenders have followed suit, like Kirk Estopinal, whose straightforward Angostura Sour takes the formula to its logical extreme. Excluding a secondary spirit altogether, Estopinal relies solely on the citrus-sugar-egg-white backbone to smooth out the aromatics of the bitters.
Not everyone does away with a base spirit, though many do tend to dial it back when calling on an ounce (or more) of Angostura. Like Estopinal, Austin Hartman of Brooklyn’s Montana’s Trail House works off of a sour template in his Trail House Sour, but he incorporates half an ounce of bourbon alongside Angostura syrup (a blend of citrus, spices and bitters) and walnut liqueur. Similarly, Zac Overman, who created the Angostura Colada for Fort Defiance’s weekly tiki night, includes a half-ounce of overproof rum in his riff on the Piña Colada.
Then there are those drinks that offer the standard measure of base spirit and simply bolster it with a hefty, unorthodox dose of bitters. Josie Packard’s ode to the Trinidad Sour, the mezcal-driven Johann Goes to Mexico, sees an impressive half-ounce of Angostura added to a mezcal base, while Don Lee stirs exactly 14 dashes of Angostura into his gin-based Sawyer—an aromatic, bitters-soaked twist on the Gimlet.
Subtle, these drinks are not. But there’s no denying that they’re proof Angostura can go far beyond the dash.
Five Drinks That Go Heavy on the Ango