Few cocktail ingredients are as essential as Angostura bitters. “Ango,” as the pros call it, is distilled in Trinidad from a unique array of aromatics; it’s bitter, of course, but characterized by rich, warm spice that comes through clearly in cocktails with even a dash. And building on its eternal popularity, Angostura recently released a new bottle in the line: Amaro di Angostura, a liqueur that echoes the bitters’ classic flavors.
So, what’s it taste like? Amaro di Angostura is rich on the palate, almost chocolatey, and while it’s nowhere as intense as the bitters, showcases their utterly distinctive spicy-bitter flavor. Unlike Angostura bitters, it’s tasty sipped straight; but just like Angostura bitters, it’s really made for cocktails. Here are three we’ve devised that really show off the liqueur.
© Carey Jones
Easy: Angostura Old Fashioned
The formula for a perfect Old Fashioned: spirit, bitters, sweetener, and citrus. Here, we’re pairing Amaro di Angostura with a fine aged rum for a cocktail that’s rich and warming, highlighting the Ango flavors without letting them take over completely.
Instructions: In a mixing glass with ice, stir together two ounces of good dark rum (we’re using Diplomatico Reserva), 3/4 ounce Amaro di Angostura, 1/4 ounce of demerara syrup (that’s demerara sugar dissolved in an equal part of hot water), and two dashes of orange bitters. Stir until very well-chilled. Strain over fresh ice. Squeeze a thick orange peel over the glass to release its citrus oils, and add as a garnish.
© Carey Jones
Intermediate: Angostura Brown Derby
The bourbon-honey-grapefruit Brown Derby is one of those underrated classics, a drink equally enticing in winter (thanks to its whiskey and fresh citrus) and in warmer weather (given that it’s tall and refreshing). Sweet bourbon and bitter grapefruit are a perfect template for Amaro di Angostura to slide right into.
Instructions: In a cocktail shaker with ice, combine an ounce of bourbon, an ounce of Amaro di Angostura, an ounce of fresh grapefruit juice, and half an ounce of demerara syrup (that’s demerara sugar dissolved in an equal part of hot water). Shake all that up until well-chilled and strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice. Top with an ounce of club soda. Garnish with grapefruit wedges.
© Carey Jones
Advanced: Angostura “Russian”
Despite its bitter basis, Amaro di Angostura has a pronounced sweetness, too, a caramel-chocolate-cinnamon character that works beautifully in richer cocktails. Here, we’re getting a little cheeky by showing it off in a White Russian-style drink: vodka and Amaro di Angostura stirred together, with a layer of fresh whipped cream. The result is our ideal kind of dessert cocktail, sweet but beautifully balanced, the cream mellowing and softening Angostura’s powerful flavors.
Instructions: In a mixing glass with ice, stir together an ounce and a half of vodka, half an ounce of Amaro di Angostura, and a quarter-ounce of simple syrup. Stir until very well-chilled, then strain into a cocktail glass. Top with an ounce of freshly whipped cream and freshly grated nutmeg.
Pro tip—here’s how to make whipped cream in a cocktail shaker. Take your Hawthorne strainer — the kind with the spring around the edge?—and pop out that spring. Put it in your cocktail tin, along with as much cream as you’re whipping up, and one ice cube. Then shake the heck out of it. The spring acts like a whisk, and after about 30 seconds or so, you’ll have a soft whipped cream.