Wednesday, January 13, 2010

There is a bar they call The Bitter Sea

Manhattan cocktail faces bitter end

It's getting tough to get a Manhattan in Manhattan.

The classic cocktail has gotten harder to find as a worldwide shortage of one of its key ingredients, Angostura bitters, has left Big Apple bartenders and barflies hoarding what little is left of the pungent brew.

"People should drink the Manhattans while they can still get them," said William Tigertt, owner of the Lower East Side haunt Freemans Restaurant. "All the distributors are still out and are rationing bottles."

The cocktail crisis begins right at the source the Angostura bottling plant in Trinidad.

Officials with the House of Angostura, whose parent company, CL Financial Group, has battled liquidity problems, say the trouble stems from a dispute with the company that supplies their bottles.

"We couldn't get the bottles from our usual distributor, so we had to switch to a Chinese distributor, and that took a bit more time to get our shipments, which backed up our orders," said company spokeswoman Giselle Laronde-West.

The production shortfall hit late last year, and couldn't have come at a worse time, as a year-end surge in orders from England and Eastern Europe, where bitters-based beverages like pink gin and champagne cocktails are popular during the holidays, created an even deeper backlog, said Laronde-West.

You think the headline to this story was just a tad overstated?

While there are other bitters out there that are actually better than Angostura, it is indeed a crisis when the most widely available bitter is in short supply. Another reminder of why it's ALWAYS good to have a well-stocked bar in your home so as not to be left to the mercies of disruptions in global supply chains.


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