The team at Angostura are on a mission: to rejuvenate swizzled cocktails. Daniyel Jones, Amaro di Angostura Ambassador; Martin Cate, rum expert and owner of Smuggler’s Cove, together Summer-Jane Bell, West Coast Brand Ambassador for House of Angostura and co-founder of the trophycocktail sharing app, tell us why it’s hot to swizzle:
L-R: Summer-Jane Bell, Daniel Jones and Danil Nevsky on swizzle duties
at Tales of the Cocktail on Tour in Edinburgh
Historically, it’s a fascinating category
The ethnography of the swizzle stick dates back to slaves in Africa and continues through to modern cocktail culture – there’s no other piece of kit quite like it.
What I like about the swizzle is it’s a technique that we first saw when people like Trader Vic travelled to Trinidad. He witnessed it being used in the Queen’s Park Hotel and brought it back – referring to it as the cure for West Indian languor.
Close up of the swizzle stick
For me as a Caribbean bartender, I feel very connected to the swizzle stick as it has its roots in African and Caribbean culture. Mind you, we didn’t use it in drinks at first, I was introduced to it as an application to food. When I was growing up my mother taught me to use it in a dish called calalloo. We’d put the leaves, seasoning and spices in a pot and after a while we’d blend them together with a swizzle stick, or as we called it, a boi lélé. When I got into bartending and saw it used as a technique, it really intrigued me as it resonates with my childhood.
It has strong roots. Literally.
The swizzle stick comes from the Quararibea turbinate tree which grows on several Caribbean islands. There’s a special way to cut, whittle and trim the branch before it becomes the prong-liked tool that we use to swizzle drinks, and as it’s a natural product, each stick is unique.
It’s a unique technique
Swizzling a drink is less aggressive than shaking and more impactful than stirring, it’s this very cool in between tool which makes it very different to any other category.
Daniyel Jones gets swizzling
Guests love it
Swizzling is a wonderful thing to do for guests, it’s done on the bar top so they really engage with the technique: it’s interactive, interesting and extremely visual. People ask questions: where it’s from, what does it do and can it be replicated at home. Plus as bartenders, we love it because while you’re doing it for the guests you can literally watch the frost developing on the glass – it’s natures little blender.
You can do it and well as drink one
The Swizzle is both a technique and orientation of a drink which makes it very special.
Guests learning about swizzles at Tales of the Cocktail on Tour in Edinburgh
You get more in your glass
There’s also the matter of ‘holdback’. After you’ve shaken and strained a cocktail into the glass, there’s still around 20% of the liquid clinging to the ice inside the shaker. When you use a quick blend or a swizzle stick, you’re not transferring the cocktail into another vessel so you don’t lose any of the drink.
The category is growing
At trophycocktail.com we’re seeing a whole lot of swizzled drinks coming through from all around the world, particularly from the US. Swizzle feature nights are becoming popular, as are bars offering entire swizzle menus.
There’s less dilution, more taste
As there’s less dilution than shaking, a swizzled drink holds its own on the longevity front. There’s a certain density to start off with, so it still tastes just as good after sitting around for five to six minutes.
The Queen’s Park Swizzle: aka summer in a glass
Swizzled cocktails + Angostura® aromatic bitters = the perfect mix
An allspice branch which imparts subtle flavours into the drink was the first swizzle to be used. Now that element of flavour has been substituted with Angostura® aromatic bitters. Swizzle cocktails tend to be very citrus orientated swizzle and the Angostura® bitters tempers that – leaving a bright, fresh citrus flavour but making it more palatable.
They taste damned good
One of my favourite drinks is the Queen’s Park Swizzle, created at the Queen’s Park Hotel in Trinidad. It manages the deft trick of being simultaneously refreshing and complex, while the rich taste of the bitters juxtaposed with the vibrant, aromatic mint makes for a moreish experience – regardless of the weather or setting.
50ml Angostura® 7 Year Old Rum
25ml Demerara simple syrup
25ml lime juice
12-14 mint leaves
6-8 dashes of Angostura® aromatic bitters
Using the base of the swizzle stick, gently press mint leaves, lime juice, simple syrup and Angostura® aromatic bitters in a highball glass. Fill glass with dry crushed ice and swizzle* well until glass is cold and frosted. Add more crushed ice and top with more Angostura® aromatic bitters and a sprig of mint.
*How to swizzle:
Place the swizzling end of the stick into your glass filled with ingredients. Next take the middle of the stick in your hands and rub them together briskly, working your way up and down the glass – try to get a good rhythm going. The stick will twirl in your hands as the horizontal prongs at the end swirls and chills the liquid in your glass. You’ll know when you’re done when the glass is nicely frosted.
Don’t have a swizzle stick? Order one from cocktailkingdom.com (or use a bar spoon – we won’t tell anyone!).
For this and more recipes featuring Angostura® rums, bitters and Amaro di Angostura®, see angosturabitters.com or download the app from