Van Wees Angostura Bitters; a Carte Blanche worthy of 007

Van Wees Angostura Bitters
Van Wees Angostura Bitters

Angostura Bitters is a staple of the mixologist’s toolkit, but the variety with over-sized label is not the only brand available. Dutch spirit company Van Wees produces a range of genevers, liqueurs and bitters, including one flavoured with Angostura Bark.

The bitters have been produced since the days of VOC (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie) AKA The Dutch East India Company.

Originally, the bitters were created to add flavour when mixed with genever and gin. As I had some other juniper-related Van Wees products, I decided to use these as a part of the tasting.

Pink Gin

i) using Three Corners Gin:
The bitters add a spicy complexity to the drink; the cinnamon and cinchona flavours work well, both together and with the simple juniper and citrus of the gin. With the recognisable flavour of spices, this drink is slightly Christmas-y.

ii) using Genever:
This is a very different drink to the Three Corners version; it is richer and maltier, and the bitters add another layer, increasing the depth of the flavour. The result is a drink with a bourbon-like character, perfect for sipping on the rocks.

Pink Gin & Tonic

i) using Three Corners Gin:
This drink has a wonderful, fresh flavour, with hints of ginger and cinnamon, and is more subtle when the Van Wees is used instead of other bitters.

ii) using Genever:
Rich and bitter, malty and herby, this is almost like an aged Negroni, although perhaps a little softer. Fantastic.

Old Fashioned

Truly a classic cocktail and rather tasty; the bitters are quite subtle, but definitely still present and bringing the different flavours together. On the finish there was a superb bitter lift courtesy of the angostura.

Carte Blanche

The Vesper of the 21st century, this drink comes from the latest James Bond Novel, Carte Blanche. It has a nose of citrus, cinnamon and cinchona. There’s slightly more flavour and bitter warmth than you get when using the usual bitters; it also less sweet. I have to say, this was a great improvement on the two other Carte Blanche’s that I have had. Delicious, and the bitters really make the drink. Truly excellent.

Amaretto Sour

A pleasant mix, with an almond biscuit-iness that contrasts well with the lemon juice. Once again, the bitters act as a catalyst, tying the flavour of the drink together and adding complexity.

With Lemonade

I added a few drops to a glass of cloudy lemonade (this drink’s ABV is less than 0.5%, which is equivalent to botanicals brewed soft drinks). The bitters add some complexity to the lemonade, as well as livening it up a bit; very tasty and very refreshing.

In Conclusion

There are lots of bitters on the market today, but I think that for a good all-round cocktail bitters, Van Wees Angostura Bitters would definitely be one to consider. As they were designed with juniper in mind, they work particularly well in gin cocktails.

But, for me, my favourite would have to be the Carte Blanche, as Bond fan, I was disappointed the first time I mixed the drink using other bitters. But when I used Van Wees Angostura Bitters the drink was transformed into something worthy of 007.

By David T. Smith

Summer Fruit Cup