For those unfamiliar with bitters - a little history. Angostura Bitters was first developed as a digestive tonic by Dr. Johann Gottlieb Benjamin Siegert in 1824. At that time, Dr. Siegert was the Surgeon General of a military hospital in Angostura, Venezuela - the bitters are named after the town. A long and convoluted history follows, all of which you can read on the Angostura site, if you're so inclined. The tonic is made from a proprietary mix of gentian and aromatic herbs and spices. Legend has it that the recipe is known only to five individuals at any given time. I don't know how true that is, but it is reported to be one of the few "trade secrets" left. Quite romantic, no?
Once we got our little bottle home, I went Googling and found scads of cocktails that include aromatic bitters. For some reason we settled on a Moscow Mule that night ...
The Moscow Mule:
- some cubes of ice
- 2 oz. vodka
- 1 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
- 4 dashes of Angostura Aromatic Bitters
- ginger beer or ginger ale*
*Note - ginger beer and ginger ale are not the same thing. Ginger beer is a carbonated soft drink more commonly found in the UK and the British Isles. It is less sweet and more gingerly flavored than American ginger ale. For the sake of ease, I'm offering the option here. If you can find real ginger beer, by all means go for it. I've found it at Fairway on occasion, but rather than hunt and forage, I often default to good 'ole Canada Dry!
This drink is light, refreshing and perfectly balanced. While I'm not generally a fan of soda, or drinks made with soda, the bitters acts as a unifying element; creating a perfect harmony between the sweet notes of the ginger ale and the tangy notes of lime.
I can't think of a better drink to usher in the first official days of Spring. It may not feel like Spring just yet ... but mix yourself up a batch of these and it will most certainly taste like it!