Photo by Caitlin Abrams
Once the pie’s polished off and your guests are slipping into food comas, digestifs—alcohols typically taken straight and consumed after a meal—are a great way to finish.
One of the most important functions is that they keep the party going. “Who wants to end a meal and just say ‘good night’?” he says. (Hear hear.)
But there are actual scientific functions, too. For one, some digestifs—especially bitter ones—help your body process all the food it just inhaled. Finishing a meal with a bitter digestif “kind of parts the seas and gets the digestion going again,” Egbert says.
Thanks to their strong flavors, digestifs also serve to compete with and cut through the hodgepodge of flavors you experienced, effectively cleansing the palate and keeping it from getting overwhelmed.
Amari—the plural of amaro—are Italian bitter herbal liqueurs (think Fernet Branca or Cynar) that are traditionally served as digestifs. You’ll also see liqueurs like French Chartreuse or Bénédictine, and Jagermeister (sip it, don’t shoot it) used as digestifs, as well as flavored liqueurs (aka cordials or schnapps), brandies, fortified wines (Sherry, Port, Marsala, sweet vermouth), eaux-de-vie (French clear brandy), Aquavit, Ouzo, and whiskey.
“I think a beautiful-tasting cordial makes a great digestif, like bitter orange liqueur, cherry liqueur, or just a nice brandy or eaux de vie,” Egbert says.
So, how to pick your after-dinner poison? With single-flavor liqueurs like Chambord or wine-based digestifs, you can pair that flavor with your meal pretty easily, says Egbert. For example, if you’re serving a meal containing cranberry or citrus flavors, choose an orange or citrus-y liqueur to complement.
For heavier meals, Egbert recommends something bolder to cut through the flavors—like whiskey with a little amaro added, or straight amaro (like a fernet).
Egbert says he is on a cherry digestif roll right now, but he also loves classics like Chartreuse and Chartreuse VEP (which is aged longer), Amaro Nonino and Amaro Montenegro. If you’re just delving into the world of digestifs, he recommends Mark Bitterman’s new book, Bitterman’s Field Guide to Bitters and Amari.
+Dec. 4 and 5 at Surdyk’s
Surdyk’s will host a Holiday Spirits Tasting: Gone Local in-store event. Sample local fare to pair with favorite cocktails and learn how to use local distilleries in your holiday entertaining.
Here’s who will be there:
Friday, Dec. 4, 3– 7 p.m.
Du Nord Distilling, Mason-Dixon/5Vodka, Panther Distilling, Prairie Distilling
Saturday, Dec. 5, 11 a.m.–2 p.m.
Tattersail Distilling, J Carver Distilling
Saturday, Dec. 5, 12–3 p.m.
Far North Spirits, Gamle Ode Spirits
Saturday, Dec. 5, 2:30–6 p.m.
11 Wells Distilling, 45th Parallel Spirits
Saturday, Dec. 5, 3:30–7 p.m.
Vikre Spirits, Norseman Distilling