In the world of cocktails there are some rules: 1 to 2 ounces of a base liquor is followed by a lesser amount of other liquors—maybe some citrus juice or tonic—and then finished with a dash or two of bitters.
But then a drink came along that was so different, even experienced bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts dropped their jaws, shook their heads, and asked, “He did what?”
The Trinidad Sour, created in 2009 by a bartender named Giuseppe Gonzalez, uses 1 1/2 ounces of Angostura bitters. It might seem like a dare, but the result is a complex, spicy cocktail worth a try. It could even become your new favorite nightcap.
What is a Trinidad Sour?
The Trinidad Sour is a “reverse” cocktail, where the ratios of the liquor and bitters are switched. The drink consists of Angostura bitters, orgeat (an almond flavored syrup), rye whiskey, and lemon juice.
What are Angostura Bitters?
Angostura bitters are a brand of medicinal bitters going back to the 1870s. It was used as a tonic to help alleviate stomach issues. Angostura was the name of the town in Venezuela where it was created—the town is now called Ciudad Bolivar.
There is much lore surrounding Angostura, from the secret recipe and ingredients to why it has an oversized label on the bottle. But one thing is certain: Without it, many cocktails that are considered the cornerstones of the cocktail renaissance, like the Manhattan and the Old Fashioned, would not exist.
The alcohol by volume (ABV) of Angostura is 44.7 percent. As reference, the ABV of an average gin sitting on your bar is 40 percent—they can go as high as 57percent, like a navy strength gin. This makes the Trinidad Sour a boozy cocktail even if the ratio of base liquor to bitters is swapped.
Angostura contains over 40 ingredients that lend to its spicy, bittersweet profile. It’s hard to pin-point the exact flavor, but you know when it’s there, and when it’s not.
Bitters like Angostura are brewed for their intense flavors and aromas—usually a dash or two are used—it’s not usually a sippable tipple. However, with the right balance of accompanying flavors, like orgeat, rye whiskey, and lemon juice, the bitter’s intense spiciness is tempered into a drink worth sipping.
I was completely blown away by it and I think you’ll also be pleasantly surprised.
What Does a Trinidad Sour Taste Like?
The deep brick red-hued Trinidad Sour has a sweet, fruity start with a subtle nuttiness that finishes with a hefty spicy clove aftertaste. There is a similarity in the flavor to allspice dram with the level of intense spices, but it is softened by the orgeat, rye whiskey, and lemon juice.
Tips and Trick for Making a Trinidad Sour
You’ve got your bottles and ingredients—now here are a few tips to make a great drink with ease!
- Don’t dash the Angostura through the dasher! You can pop the dasher off the top and pour it like an ordinary bottle.
- While a 4-ounce Angostura bottle is easier to come by, if you enjoy this spicy drink and want to serve it to guests, you’ll need a 16-ounce bottle.
- Shake the cocktail for a solid 20 seconds to chill and dilute it. This cocktail has a kick, so proper dilution is necessary to soften the flavors and make sure it isn’t too strong or warm. Also, if the orgeat is on the thicker side, it needs to loosen up to incorporate well into the drink. Shaking the cocktail properly helps.
Make It Your Own Cocktail
The original recipe, and what I use here, calls for Angostura bitters. Fee Brothers aromatic bitters or any bitters labeled as “aromatic” will be similar in flavor.
Taste it first to find what you enjoy. You’re looking for aromatic bitters with a spicy backbone to stand out in this drink. Some bitters will fit this profile, and some might be softer and not as bold. Others might just be plain unpalatable to sip in large quantities.
Here are other swaps to consider:
- I increased the lemon juice from 3/4 ounce to 1 ounce. This subtle change brightened the drink for me and tempered the heavy clove in the Angostura. Feel free to keep it at 3/4 ounce of lemon juice.
- I swapped the lemon juice for lime juice and find it more floral and a bit more biting.
- Try swapping the traditional almond orgeat with another nut variety. I tried a homemade hazelnut orgeat that gave the cocktail a more pronounced nuttiness.
More Spiced Drinks to Try
- Winter Spiced Orange Mocktail
- Old Fashioned Cocktail
- Sazerac Cocktail
- Whiskey Sour Cocktail
- Pisco Sour
- Ice for chilling
- 1 1/2 ounces Angostura bitters
- 1 ounce orgeat
- 1/2 ounce rye whiskey
- 1 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Lemon peel for garnish (optional)
Shake the drink:
In a shaker filled two-thirds with ice, add the Angostura bitters, orgeat, rye whiskey, and lemon juice. Place the lid on and shake for 20 seconds. Strain into a coupe glass.
Garnish and serve:
Garnish with lemon peel if desired and serve.