Bloomberg News

Don Draper Cocktails May Cost More Under U.K. Government Plan

June 02, 2011

June 2 (Bloomberg) -- The cost of an Old Fashioned, the favored cocktail of Don Draper, protagonist of the Mad Men TV series, may increase in the U.K. after the government proposed cutting tax relief on one of its main ingredients.

Angostura Bitters, a blend of herbs and spices made by Trinidad-based Angostura Ltd. and used as an ingredient in drinks, is currently exempt from U.K. import duty under the Alcoholic Liquor Duties Act 1979. The country’s government has presented plans to abolish the tax relief, which it says is “unfair” as it applies to only one brand of bitters, according to a consultation document published on May 27.

Ending the tax relief could add 2.28 pounds ($3.74) to the price of a bottle of Angostura Bitters, the document shows. That would indicate a possible 53 percent increase based on the price of 4.29 pounds for 100 milliliters on website thedrinkshop.com.

The U.K. government expects a “negative impact” on the maker of Angostura Bitters, it said. The U.K. consumes about 240,000 bottles a year, according to the document. Angostura Bitters is a “low volume ingredient to cocktails and food,” which limits the overall impact from the removal of the duty exemption, according to the document.

Calls to Angostura’s press office in Trinidad and an e-mail were not immediately answered.

Angostura Bitters is used alongside whiskey, sugar and lemon peel to make Old Fashioned cocktails. It’s also a popular ingredient in other drinks, including champagne cocktails. Angostura Ltd. is a unit of closely held CL Financial Ltd.

--Editors: Paul Jarvis, Jim Silver.

To contact the reporter on this story: Clementine Fletcher in London at cfletcher5@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Celeste Perri at cperri@bloomberg.net.


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