Sweet bitters! Angostura reappearing on shelves.

O frabjous day! Calooh! Callay!

Walking into Topline Wine and Spirits in Glendale today, I saw something I hadn’t seen in many months — bottles of Angostura Bitters on the shelf. And there was much rejoicing.

If you’re even the slightest bit of a cocktailian, you’ve noticed the Worldwide Shortage Of Angostura which started kicking in last fall. Rumors flew — the recession killed the company, they were going out of business, we’d never see Angostura again (which would be a horrendous blow to the world of cocktails).

Rachel Maddow, proving once again how she is made of awesome, is a dedicated cocktailian and regularly devotes a portion of her program to cocktails and cocktail issues (tip of the hat to my sister Melissa). She recently featured Angostura on her program, taught the Teeming Masses how to make Champagne Cocktails and Manhattans (I prefer a 2:1 Manhattan ratio myself, especially as I tend to use higher proof whiskey) and not quite so much Ango. To each his or her own tastes, however.

Rachel also had an extensive interview with a couple of nice ladies from Angostura Ltd. who flew in from Trinidad to answer questions about the situation. Here’s the whole segment from The Rachel Maddow Show:

So, the official PR line is … they ran out of bottles and couldn’t get any more from their supplier. Hm.

I’ve read a variety of other stories. According to this Guardian article, Angostura Ltd. (which has been around since 1824) was once owned by Bacardi but was sold in 1997:

The firm is [now] owned by CL Financial, a Caribbean conglomerate hit by a liquidity crisis, prompting an emergency bailout earlier this year by the government of Trinidad and Tobago. CL leveraged Angostura’s profits against a series of acquisitions including a deal to buy control of a Jamaican industrial company, Lascelles deMercado. It was reportedly left with a TT$600m (£57m/US$87.5m) hole in its balance sheet.

Not good.

Interestingly, the PR line seems to be that it was only the bottles, and that production never stopped. However, a representative from Angostura USA was quoted last year as saying that production had actually stopped in June, and it would take a while to resume; you can’t just flip a switch and suddenly make bitters appear.

Whatever the real reason, let us rejoice that Ango is finally back on our shelves. Shall we celebrate with an Old Fashioned?

10 Responses to “Sweet bitters! Angostura reappearing on shelves.”

  1. Mike S. said:

    Apr 18, 10 at 9:55 am

    Interesting about the Ango shortage. I guess one of the side-effects of having a large collection of bitters (and actually using them all) is that I tend to go a fairly long while between bottle replacements. I didn’t even notice it….

  2. Chuck said:

    Apr 18, 10 at 12:19 pm

    If you’re making Angostura Sours or Trinidad Sours (using 1-1/2 ounces of Ango at a time), you go through them pretty fast. We go through a lot of Ango anyway, including putting it in my Coke Zero.

  3. Norma V said:

    Apr 19, 10 at 12:01 am

    My husband works for a London wine merchant and has been able to get supplies of Angostura throughout the shortage but only in half litre bottles!
    Interesting bitters fact; here in the UK Angostura is classified as a food stuff and is not subject to the same taxes as other alcoholic beverages.

  4. seriousdarious said:

    Apr 20, 10 at 2:25 pm

    One of the (very, very few) advantages of living in a cocktail wasteland like Detroit is that there hasn’t really been a shortage around here. Prices have, however, steadily been creeping up…

  5. Chuck said:

    Apr 20, 10 at 8:44 pm

    There’s that, at least. But hey Darious, what’s up with those brandy Old Fashioneds with 7UP in ‘em y’all drink up there?


  6. Angostura Bitters | Poetry Homepage said:

    May 02, 10 at 4:07 pm

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  7. seriousdarious said:

    May 18, 10 at 2:23 pm

    Dagnabit, Chuck! That’s the second time you’ve put Detroit in Wisconsin(?). The first time was during an email correspondence when you (very graciously) gave me a “where to drink in LA” list. I can’t find the emails, but I believe you asked me the same question then. I know we’re a cocktail backwater, but Detroit-Michigan is an association that tends to stick in people’s minds. Too much booze, methinks. ;)

  8. seriousdarious said:

    May 18, 10 at 2:24 pm

    Whoa. That smiley is not all all where I put it when I was writing that comment. Just imagine it at the end.

  9. seriousdarious said:

    May 18, 10 at 2:25 pm

    Not AT all. I need to proof my proofing.

  10. Chuck said:

    May 18, 10 at 2:55 pm

    I apparently have absolutely no brain cells left. Sigh.

    Besides, I see the country as being in two parts: south Louisiana, and Everywhere Else. It’s close enough. ;-)