The legend begins with Johann Gottlieb Benjamin Siegert. Originally from Germany, Johann Siegert, a doctor of medicine, left his homeland in 1820, the call of adventure ringing in his ears. He was bound for Venezuela, to join with Simon Bolivar in his fight against the Spanish throne. Bolivar then appointed him Surgeon-General of the Military Hospital in the town of Angostura. Dr. Siegert was above all a scientist. A scientist with a keen enquiring mind. He had seen soldiers battered by the enemy from without and within, by severe fevers and internal stomach disorders. From the beginning Dr. Siegert was determined to wrest a cure from nature itself and after four years of trial and error, researching and analysing the qualities of tropical herbs and plants, he finally arrived at a unique blend of herbs which he called “Amargo Aromatico” or aromatic bitters. The year was 1824. In 1830, Dr. Siegert exported his unique aromatic bitters to England and Trinidad. By 1850, he had resigned his commission in the Venezuelan army, to concentrate on the manufacture of his bitters, since by then demand had leapt ahead of supply. By the time Dr. Siegert died in 1870, his reputation and that of his Angostura® aromatic bitters were internationally established.
Although the original formula of the recipe is unknown, as it remains a strictly guarded secret only known to five people, it is speculated that the recipe contained over 40 ingredients. Angostura bitters was primarily meant to conceal the flavor of quinine in the tonic water but, today, Angostura bitters form a key constituent in many cocktails. Angostura bitters are claret in color, with a unique herby smell and taste.