New Year bubbly cocktails

Make the night fizz with Angostura bitter’s recipes

When you think of New Year’s Eve, the first thing you think of is cracking open a bottle of bubbly at the stroke of midnight, right?
Well, instead of just pouring a flute of sparkling wine or MCC, why not add a few dashes of this and that, along with some Angostura aromatic bitters, to create a cocktail that everyone will love?
The concept of bitters goes back hundreds of years.
Its first recorded use in Europe was by monks in around 1500, with the production of spirits using herbs and spices for medicinal purposes.
By the 1600s, bitters were being taken in Europe before meals as an appetite stimulator.
Then, in the 1800s, it flourished once more under the guise of medical elixirs.
It was around this time that Angostura made its appearance. Dr Johann Gottlieb Benjamin Siegert perfected his famous secret recipe for Angostura aromatic bitters in 1824.
Being the surgeon general in Simon Bolivar's Liberation Army at the time, Siegert prescribed his “magical elixir” to soldiers in order to cure tummy ailments.
Not long after this the idea of using bitters to add flavour to drinks and food dishes was introduced.
In 1831, the first cocktail recipe calling for the use of bitters was written.
The Pink Gin cocktail was created in 1862 and specifically called for Angostura aromatic bitters.
Bitters are a liquid extraction of seeds, herbs, bark, roots, flowers, leaves and the fruit of various plants dissolved in alcohol.
For Angostura bitters ingredients from around the world and shipped via London in indistinguishable bags to the company’s production site in Laventille, Trinidad.
There production starts in a secret room called the Sanctuary where ingredients are blended, ground and sieved, then loaded into cylindrical canisters that are placed on top of one of several tanks filled with 190 proof sugar-based distillate.
The distillate is cold percolated through the mixture to extract just the right amount of flavour.
After percolating, the liquid is transferred to enormous stainless steel tanks, mixed with sugar and caramel colouring, and cut down to proof with local spring water.
It then rests for around three months until all the flavours have fully integrated.
Angostura bitter’s recipe is a closely guarded secret, said to be known to only five people on the planet.
Besides being a key component in many cocktails, bitters can be used to add depth and flavour to certain dishes, intensifying the flavour of other ingredients.
Non-alcoholic drinks become crisper and more refreshing with bitters.
It enhances the top notes of light cocktails without masking the true personality of the spirit and in other cocktails it adds a subtle unique taste regardless of the spirits used.
It soothes the acidity in citrus-based cocktails and adds depth to creamy creations.
It mellows out the aged notes in heavy rums, smooths dried aged whiskies, matures a Manhattan, rounds off the taste in beer and marries well with pink gin and vermouth.
In addition, bitters is believed by many to aid digestive health, cleanse the palate, soothe gas and bloating, calm upset stomachs and nausea, and even curb sugar cravings.
Here are a few recipes to try to try this New Year’s Eve
1 white sugar cube
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Garnish: lemon peel
Drop the sugar cube into a champagne glass, saturate with bitters, top with bubbles and garnish with lemon peel.
30ml rum
15ml maple syrup
15ml fresh lemon juice
2 bar spoons cranberry jam
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Garnish: fresh or dried cranberries
Place all ingredients into a shaker, except for the bubbles.
Shake with ice and double strain into a chilled champagne flute.
Top with bubbly and garnish with cranberries.
22ml lemon juice
30ml honey
1 egg white
7ml Angostura bitters
Garnish: 5 dashes Angostura bitters
Stir bitters, lemon juice and honey with ice until chilled. Strain into shaker; dry shake with egg white.
Pour bubbles into a glass and slowly strain the foamy mixture over the bubbles.

This article is reserved for registered HeraldLIVE readers.

Simply register at no cost to proceed. If you've already registered, simply sign in.

Already registered on DispatchLIVE, BusinessLIVE, TimesLIVE or SowetanLIVE? Sign in with the same details.

Questions or problems? Email helpdesk@heraldlive.co.za or call 0860 52 52 00.