December 11, 2012 by Bourbon Empire
Would you kill your spouse because she made you a mediocre cocktail? That’s the message from some of these old Angostura bitters advertisements from over 50 years ago. Angostura bitters ran some of the funniest ads in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and also some of the worst. The best were clever and light, the worst were misogynistic and bizarre. One in particular, which ran in The New Yorker, features a man about to shoot his wife because she forgot to put enough bitters in his old-fashioned.
The product itself was a staple ingredient in cocktails from that era and is still a workhorse in today’s bars. Up until a few years ago when zillions of new varieties of bitters became available for sale (from rhubarb bitters to celery bitters to Mexican chocolate bitters), Angostura was one of the very few brands you could buy. I came across a couple of old Angostura ads that grabbed my interested and I dug the rest of these up. Most of them came from old issues of The New Yorker or Ivy League campus magazines.
Some of the ads are disturbing, but others are pretty clever or just plain goofy. Take this one, where an irate customer pulls a machine gun on his Manhattan because it doesn’t contain enough bitters.
But then there are these advertisements. Is that guy actually stuffing his wife down a garbage disposal because she screwed up his evening cocktail? Unfortunately, I think he is.