The Great Bitters Shortage goes on

It's not the same as last year's Knob Creek shortage, when the bourbon distiller reported it was temporarily out of enough aged whiskey to bottle.

In this instance, the folks who make Angostura Bitters apparently have plenty of product, What they don't have is enough bottles to put it in.

The globally popular cocktail ingredient has been in short supply since the second half of 2009 because of an ongoing dispute between the House of Angostura in Trinidad and Tobago and the company that supplies its bottles. Production was halted in November, although since then a limited number of bottles have been delivered.

Some bars and restaurants have been hoarding their supply until the pipeline reopens. At the moment, the manufacturer is being vague about when that may be.

The House of Angostura has been undergoing a financial restructuring. It is owned by CL Financial, a Caribbean conglomerate that purchased it from Bacardi in 1997. CL is suffering through a liquidity crisis that necessitated an emergency bailout last year by the government of Trinidad and Tobago.

Angostura Bitters is the largest bitters seller in the world. Its sales in the U.S. alone are about 750,000 of the four-ounce bottles. The product, made from a proprietary recipe of spices, herbs, roots, barks and rum, was invented in 1824 by German doctor Johann Siegert as a tonic to ease tropical ailments. It was named for the Venezuelan town where he lived at the time.

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