Angostura bitters are a staple ingredient in many classic cocktails, from the Old Fashioned to the Manhattan.
But for those who don’t mix drinks often, the question of whether or not Angostura bitters expire may arise. The good news is that, according to experts, bitters like Angostura don’t technically expire.
While most spirits have a shelf life, bitters are a bit different. Thanks to their high alcohol content, bitters can last indefinitely. Angostura bitters, for example, have an alcohol by volume (ABV) of 45%, which is higher than most spirits.
This high ABV acts as a natural preservative, keeping the bitters fresh and drinkable for years to come. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to storing and using Angostura bitters to ensure they remain at their best.
- Angostura bitters don’t technically expire thanks to their high alcohol content.
- Proper storage is key to keeping Angostura bitters fresh and flavorful.
- While Angostura bitters may last indefinitely, they may lose some of their potency over time.
Understanding Angostura Bitters
History and Origin
Angostura bitters is a type of cocktail bitters that has been around since the early 1800s.
It was first made in Venezuela by a German doctor named Johann Gottlieb Benjamin Siegert. The bitters were originally intended to be used as a medicinal tonic to help alleviate stomach ailments. However, it quickly became popular as a cocktail ingredient due to its unique flavor profile.
In 1875, Siegert moved his operation to Trinidad, where it is still made to this day. The bitters are made by the House of Angostura, which is now owned by the Campari Group.
Ingredients and Preparation
Angostura bitters is made using a secret recipe that includes a blend of spices, herbs, and other botanicals. Some of the key ingredients include gentian, cinnamon, and cloves. The bitters are made by macerating these ingredients in a neutral spirit, which is then aged in oak barrels for several months.
The exact recipe for Angostura bitters is a closely guarded secret, and only a select few people know the full recipe. However, the House of Angostura has stated that the recipe has remained unchanged since it was first created in the early 1800s.
Types of Bitters
There are two main types of bitters: aromatic bitters and cocktail bitters. Aromatic bitters are typically used in small quantities to add flavor and complexity to cocktails. Angostura bitters is a type of aromatic bitters.
Cocktail bitters, on the other hand, are used in larger quantities and can be used to balance out the sweetness or acidity of a cocktail. Other types of cocktail bitters include orange bitters, Peychaud’s bitters, and Regans’ bitters.
Overall, Angostura bitters is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a wide variety of cocktails. Its unique flavor profile and long history make it a staple in any well-stocked bar.
Storage and Shelf Life
Proper Storage Conditions
Angostura bitters, like most spirits, have a prolonged shelf life. The alcohol in bitters acts as a natural preservative, making them essentially indefinite. However, proper storage conditions can help extend their shelf life.
It is recommended to store a bottle of bitters in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and heat. A pantry or a dark place in the kitchen is ideal. If the bottle of bitters has been opened, it is best to refrigerate it to slow down oxidation and maintain its quality. A tightly sealed lid is also important to prevent water from entering the bottle and spoiling the bitters.
Signs of Spoilage
While bitters do not technically expire, they can still spoil if not stored properly. Signs of spoilage include a change in color, consistency, or aroma. If the bitters have a thicker, almost syrupy consistency, it may have gone bad and should be discarded.
Citrus bitters, in particular, have a shorter shelf life due to their high acidity. It is recommended to refrigerate citrus bitters after opening to prevent spoilage.
Does Angostura Bitters Expire?
Angostura bitters are a popular ingredient in cocktails, and many people wonder if they expire.
According to experts, Angostura bitters do not technically expire. This is because bitters, including Angostura, have a high alcohol content, usually over 40% ABV, which acts as a preservative and helps prevent spoilage.
However, it is important to note that bitters can lose their potency over time. The flavors and aromas may become less intense, which can affect the balance of a cocktail. This loss of potency can be due to several factors, including chemical reactions, evaporation, and exposure to sunlight or oxygen.
It is recommended to store bitters in a cool, dark place away from sunlight and heat sources. This will help preserve their potency and prevent spoilage. Additionally, it is important to keep the lid tightly closed to prevent evaporation and contamination.
While Angostura bitters do not have an expiration date, it is still a good idea to check for any signs of spoilage before using them in a cocktail. This can include a rancid smell or taste, cloudiness, or signs of fermentation. If any of these signs are present, it is best to discard the bitters and purchase a new bottle.