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It is bitter, and yet…

angostura bittersWhere do you go for the latest in cutting edge medical information? Yes, me too: the trans-Atlantic in-flight magazine. There, snuggled between the barf bag and the instructions for using your seat cushion as a flotation device (I wonder, has anyone ever survived using a seat cushion as a flotation device? I think not), I found an article on Angostura bitters.

They were invented in the 1820s by a German doctor serving in Simรณn Bolivar’s army. He intended them as a general health tonic, but they quickly passed into folklore in Venezuela and the Carribean as a sort of cure-all. I mean, raising people from the dead is pretty good going for a cocktail. No-one outside the firm knows what’s in them, apart from sugar, alcohol and gentian.

The author of the article I read swears that a few drops in a small amount of soda water will settle an upset stomach and crank up appetite (and I’m sure we’re all searching for an easy way to increase appetite!)

The British Royal Navy latched onto them as a seasickness cure, which is why pink gin is the official drink of the Navy. A shiny new sixpence to the lad or lass who manages to think up the “pink gin/homosexuality in the Royal Navy” crack that eludes me here. Feel free to work Hornblower in somehow. Anyhow, you make a pink gin by swirling Angostura bitters around the glass and then filling it with gin. Mmmmm! Pink!

I really like bitter, ouchie beverages, so I made a mental note to order some of this stuff. Then I saw it in the booze section of the grocery store here. I’ve been a-drinkin’ pink vodkas ever since: vodka, tonic and a splash of bitters.

It’s…nice. It’s not reallly bitter, though. It tastes like this professional dentifrice my dentoid used when I was a teenager. Why I should find that appealing, I…point you to the observation above about my love of things bitter and ouchie.

I give it …

  three and a half drunken weasels.


Comment from dfbaskwill
Time: December 11, 2008, 8:17 pm

44.7 % !! Here in the states we just go all out and use “corn squeazings” at 100%. A friend of mine used to always bring a mason jar of “fit for human consumption” moonshine his sheriff father had confiscated in South Carolina, to all parties with an envelope of grape kool-aid. Not bitter at all!

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: December 11, 2008, 8:27 pm

Oh, I have a fine old family recipe for ‘shine.

Incidentally, the label is supposed to be all too big and tardalated like that. Heh.

Comment from Gnus
Time: December 11, 2008, 8:28 pm

I took a whole swallow of moonshine. Once.

Comment from pandelume
Time: December 11, 2008, 8:44 pm

A few drops on a lemon slice = surefire cure for the hiccups

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: December 11, 2008, 8:54 pm

I think I saw that mentioned, pandelume. Good to know. A sip of vinegar has always been my sovereign cure.

My mother was a big fan of the “scare it out of you” method. It never worked. But she loved randomly popping up and screaming, “WAAAAAUUUGH!!!!” when we least expected it.

Comment from Michael
Time: December 11, 2008, 9:16 pm

I always learn something here.

Nothing worthwhile, but something.

Comment from Jill
Time: December 11, 2008, 9:26 pm

2-3 drops of Angostura bitters in a glass of ginger ale will settle the queasiest tummy.

Comment from MCPO Airdale
Time: December 11, 2008, 9:31 pm

I wish I could drink gin but, the use of Juniper berries makes my nasal passages slam shut. Not highly desirable when one is try to appear suave and debonair.

Comment from Bugs
Time: December 11, 2008, 10:02 pm

The only traditions of the Royal Navy are rum, sodomy and the lash. – — Churchill’s assistant, Anthony Montague-Browne said that although Churchill had not uttered these words, he wished he had.

I guess today he would have to wish that he had said “pink gin, sodomy, and the lash.”

Comment from JuliaM
Time: December 12, 2008, 1:32 am

Best used in a champagne cocktail – a few drops of bitters on a sugar cube, drop it into a champagne glass, pour over a teaspoon of good cognac, and top with champagne.

The best way to start your Christmas morning… ๐Ÿ™‚

Comment from porknbean
Time: December 12, 2008, 4:00 am

Never could stand the taste of booze. The few times I have, had to be disguised in a dahquiri.
After an intentional ‘drunken’ state via vodka and orange juice in college, the smell of booze activates my gag reflex…to this day.

Comment from iamfelix
Time: December 12, 2008, 10:46 am

I’m similar, PnB … A lot of things make me sick by the smell, but a few things (champagne, wine, and a very limited number of mixed drinks, mild & mostly vodka-based) I can handle. But no more than 2, or someone’s shoes will be barfed on … mine, anyone’s in the vicinity. And it comes on instantaneously.

Comment from Gibby Haynes
Time: December 12, 2008, 12:00 pm

I don’t enjoy gin either because of the pungent juniper aroma. And whiskey still makes me gag because of the time when I was a wee nipper and I got my grubby paws into Dad’s booze cupboard and then drank half a bottle of Jack Daniels in one sitting and was ill for the next few days.

Therefore I mostly just stick to ale.

Someone once told me that Angostura Bitters was poisonous, and I’ve unquestioningly spread that rumour far and wide. I wonder what else I’ve been talking out of my arse about? No wonder all too often people give me a ‘pull the other one, pal’ look when I tell them things.

I hear Angostura Bitters is a nice accompaniment to one’s Victory Gin which one can have in the Chestnut Tree Cafe after one’s learnt to love Big Brother, denounced the person one loves, oneself and accused oneself of all manner of criminal activities, before being taken away to be shot.

Comment from Jill
Time: December 12, 2008, 12:40 pm

I dj’ed this past Saturday night.

Afterwards, I’m sitting with some friends and gin became the topic of conversation.

My hairdresser said, “You ever have gin bite you on the ass?” Everyone shook their heads yes. “‘Cause if you have gin bite you on the ass, you never forget it!”


Comment from Red State Witch
Time: December 12, 2008, 1:39 pm

My first serious bender in college was on gin. I woke up on the floor with my head in a trashcan – I never did figure that one out. Thirty-two years later, the smell of gin still makes me gag. Bitten on the ass, for sure.

Comment from scubafreak
Time: December 12, 2008, 1:41 pm

IN case anyone is interested, Pinup Legend Betty Page died yesterday at the age of 85 from complications from a Coronary infarction. ๐Ÿ™

Comment from Muslihoon
Time: December 12, 2008, 1:42 pm

I have had three sips of alcohol my entire life. And two times was at Episcopalian services.

And I just noticed – The Queen drinks Angostura! Look at the, em, seal thingy! By appointment to Her Maj!

Comment from jwpaine
Time: December 12, 2008, 2:16 pm

Just a spoonful of bitters helps the AB seaman go down.

/Okay, so it doesn’t quite scan. Sue me.

Comment from Gibby Haynes
Time: December 12, 2008, 2:20 pm

I can imagine Liz drinking pink gins Musli, but if she consumed everything with the seal and the ‘By appointment to HM the Queen’ thingy on, she’d be either very fat, very jaundiced and most likely very dead. I mean, around 75% of the food items in my house have that seal on. If that’s a reliable snapshot of the whole country – and indeed the seal meant she consumed the item – she’d have to spend all of her time eating and drinking. Which, incidentally, is what I’d do if I was a monarch. Nuts to all of that charity malarkey.

Comment from scubafreak
Time: December 12, 2008, 2:37 pm

Oh GOD, JW. You HAD to get that ricochetting around my head, didn’t ya? Please shoot me…….. ARGGGG!!!

Comment from Allen
Time: December 12, 2008, 2:39 pm

Hey there’s an idea I’ve never considered: pink shine. Some squeezin’s with a dash of bitters.

It’s what all us upscale rednecks are drinking. ๐Ÿ™‚

Comment from Muslihoon
Time: December 12, 2008, 2:45 pm

Most of the imported stuff came from England when I was living in Pakistan. Every morning, I’d study and admire the colorful and fanciful coats of arms that adorned every cereal box.

I wonder how they determine who gets the Royal Warrant if it isn’t through actual habitual use.

WRT to alcohol: I often think, “If I’m so weird when I’m sober, I shudder to think what would be unleashed upon the world were I to get drunk.”

Comment from jwpaine
Time: December 12, 2008, 3:34 pm

Ricocheting around in your brain, scuba? What about me? I live with that freakin’ song in my head all the time*.

* Except for those rare but welcome occasions when it’s momentarily replaced by some moldy oldie or another.

Comment from jwpaine
Time: December 12, 2008, 3:35 pm

Man, akismet is a fussy bitch.

Comment from porknbean
Time: December 12, 2008, 3:50 pm

I tasted a gin and tonic once. Just once. A very small taste. That is some foul brew. May as well drink paint thinner….though you could probably use it as such.

Comment from dfbaskwill
Time: December 12, 2008, 4:04 pm

PnB, the horrible truth is, moonshine at 100% has no smell or taste to make you gag. So, let the fun commence. (I actually only imbibed once, that’s way more than enough.)

Comment from Fontessa
Time: December 12, 2008, 4:05 pm

The first time I was old enough to order a mixed drink—I blanked out. The only thing I could think of was a martini. I have loved Gin ever since. Gin with tonic water, Gin with fresh squeezed grapefruit juice, Gin with vermouth and olives (4:1 please), Gin with ice, Gin without ice. But not cheap Gin mind you; I want very good Gin—Bombay Sapphire, Tanqueray, Hendrick’s.

Comment from Omnibus Driver
Time: December 12, 2008, 4:33 pm

If you bite into a lime that has a few dashes of bitters shaken onto it, it’ll cure your hiccups quickly! Works like a champ.

Comment from bad cat robot
Time: December 12, 2008, 5:02 pm

Once got to taste real moonshine. The fumes made my eyes water before the glass got to my lips, but that was the *smoothest* booze I have ever encountered. Oh yeah, and it punched above its weight class too.

Comment from Jill
Time: December 12, 2008, 5:34 pm

You people are going to drive me to drink.



Comment from wendyworn
Time: December 12, 2008, 7:46 pm

When my sister and I were teenagers – we snuck a pint of gin into a movie theatre to mix in our drinks. We were watching “Arthur” (yes I’m old). I blacked out during the movie. Later my sister told me that when the butler died the whole theatre got really quiet and serious, until I busted out laughing. I dont remember but I pissed off the whole place.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: December 12, 2008, 7:52 pm

Every damn day, you guys make me so proud.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: December 12, 2008, 8:04 pm

Yes, those formative experiences are pretty, uh, formative…

A certain juvenile badger decided to show-off one day, by ordering a beer. He downed it in one and hurled it back up again, even quicker.

Hated even the smell of the vile stuff, ever since.

Vodka or cognac, on the other paw, or a nice bottle of shampoo….

Comment from scubafreak
Time: December 12, 2008, 8:20 pm

JW, the biggest problem is that my mind likes to ad-lib these things….

“Just a spoonfull of Bitters helps the cabinboy go dooowwwn,
The cabinboy go dooowwn,
The cabinboy go down.

Just a spoonfull of Bitters helps the Cabinboy go down,
in the most delightful way….”

(I just hope that it’s Cabinboy smith from YELLOWBEARD”)

“Who’s that with you, Bosun Moon?
Oh, um. Thats Cabinboy Smith, Sir!
Smith has tits!
He’s been a bit ill lately….
Get her off!”

God, now I NEED to go get drunk. At least I have a party tommorrow where it is just about guaranteed that people are coming out of their cloths. I’m even throwing in a touch of the Irish (and Scotch to boot) ๐Ÿ™‚

Comment from BJM
Time: December 12, 2008, 10:24 pm

I’m a bitters lover too…get yourself a bottle of Aperol the Italian aperitif (the real deal not the pussified American version) and whip up a Venetian Spritz.

Partially fill a 12 ounce tall tumbler with cracked ice. Pour over:

5/10ths Aperol
3/10ths Prosecco wine
2/10ths sparkling water
Add 1 martini olive and/or 1 orange slice

Comment from Dave
Time: December 13, 2008, 7:29 am

Angosturna Bitters is the secret ingredient in a proper Cuba Libre.

Comment from Lipstick
Time: December 13, 2008, 2:00 pm

Really Dave? Wow, I hadn’t heard that and now have to try it.

I used to mix rum and orange juice with a splash of bitters.

Comment from Bitterroot
Time: December 17, 2008, 6:18 pm

Angostura bitters are great. Peychaud’s Bitters, however, are what makes my favorite cocktail – the Sazerac. I’ve fallen in love with the Rye and Herbsaint based “authentic” New Orleans version, but I’d love to try an original with real Absinthe.

I’ve spent many an hour sipping Sazeracs in the Quarter… Hard to find a bar to serve them outside New Orleans, but tip a bartender well enough, you can learn a few secrets (like the lemon OIL is all you need or want – dropping the peel in will spoil the drink!)

Found you via Rachel Lucas BTW. I hear she’s moving to your neck of the woods. There goes the neighborhood!! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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