I met some friends for drinks last night at the Royale in el sur de la ciudad de San Luis (South St. Louis City). The place is known for its unusual cocktails, and there was one that immediately caught my eye: the Soulard Sling. One of the ingredients in this drink is Angostura bitters, a liquor which has an interesting place in Latin American history.
Angostura was developed by a German doctor named Johann Siegert in the early 1820s while he was living in Venezuela. He had moved to that country to help famed South American liberator Simón Bolívar fight against the Spanish crown and establish his Gran Colombia state. Bolívar was a creole from an aristocratic family, and he discovered the power of racism and oppression during a visit to Spain in his young adulthood. During that trip, he was stripped of his goods and put in jail basically for being a creole with nice stuff. In that one act, Spain had created their own worst enemy. Bolívar would help liberate five different South American countries, and he is still celebrated today in South America as the key to independence on the continent.
During Bolívar’s revolutionary days, Johann Siegert served as his Surgeon General at a military hospital in the city of Angostura, Venezuela—hence the name of the bitters. (By the way, the city of Angostura is now known as Ciudad Bolívar.) He was trying to develop a medicinal potion to use with his patients when he came up with a recipe for aromatic bitters instead. Shortly thereafter, he began exporting the stuff. And by 1850, Angostura was popular enough that Siegert resigned his military post to dedicate his time solely to manufacturing and selling his creation. Its production is still overseen by the Siegert family today.
Dr. Johann Siegert
As for the Soulard Sling, like Bolívar’s passion for South American independence and liberty, it was strong stuff. But like his dream for a unified South America, the drink fell apart for me by the end. Too much bitters is not a good thing.
Posted in comida, pop culture, Reviews, San Luis MO, the neighborhood, Uncategorized
Tagged bebida, caribe, comida, Los Estados Unidos, san luis, south america, St. Louis, venezuela
And don’t make the mistake of calling it ano nuevo. Jaja!
Credit Image: © Xinhua/ZUMA Press
a drink : una bebida
cocktail : el cóctel :: champagne : el champán
wine : el vino :: beer : la cerveza
martini : el martini :: rum & coke : la cuba libre
gin & tonic : el gin tonic :: a shot : un trago
single : sencillo :: double : doble
with ice : con hielo :: without ice : sin hielo
teetotaler : el/la abstemio/a :: non-alcoholic : sin alcohol
While South America has Pecsi, North America has the equally intriguing Full Throttle Blue Demon: “Crisp, blue agave flavor for all-day energy.” Not that I like energy drinks…they scare me actually. In fact, I’d probably pull a bicep just lifting a can of this to my mouth. And while I generally couldn’t care less about a Coke® product, the Blue Demon of the drink’s name is a fascinating bit of Mexican pop culture.
The original Blue Demon (that’s Blue Demon, Jr. in the picture above) is one of the most famous masked wrestlers (luchador enmascarado) in Mexican wrestling history. And that’s saying a lot because wrestling (lucha libre) is huge there. Wrestling stars are featured in tv, comics, and obviously advertising. And big personalities like “Blue” also become movie stars. Between 1964 and 1977, Blue Demon starred in 25 films, including Blue Demon contra las aranas infernales (“Blue Demon vs. the Infernal Spiders”), Blue Demon en pasaporte a la muerte (“Blue Demon in Passport to Death”), and La noche de la muerte (“Night of Death”). Those aren’t necessarily his most well-known films. I just like the titles.
Some of Blue Demon’s biggest films were made with the other huge star of Mexican wrestling, El Santo (“the Saint”). El Santo and Blue Demon started a famous rivalry in the ring during the 1950s. But outside the ring, Santo and Blue sometimes fought celluloid battles together against zombies, Dracula, and the Wolfman, when they weren’t taking on mad scientists or evil geniuses…or each other.
Alejandro Muñoz Moreno, the original Blue Demon, never took off his mask. He was even buried in it after dying of a heart attack in 2000. But his character lives on in the personage of Blue Demon, Jr., who may or may not be Moreno’s adopted son—his true identity is not publicly known. And while I’m not going to suggest that drinking a nasty blue energy drink will do you any good, it’s kind of neat what’s behind that mass-produced can, ¿no?