While aperitifs are had before a meal and stimulate one’s appetite, digestifs are alcoholic beverages that are had after a meal and are said to aid digestion. While in the case of aperitifs the bitterness helps to whet the appetite, it always better to end a meal on a sweet note so digestifs are typically on the sweeter side and are normally had straight.
Sometimes a digestif can replace the dessert altogether at the end of a meal.
In some cultures various types of teas and spiked coffee are also consumed as digestifs.
There are various kinds of digestifs, to name a few:
- Brandy: Cognac, Armanac, Schnapps, Grappa, Calvados and other Eau de vie or fruit brandies
- Fortified wines: Usually sweet like Cream Sherry, Port and Madiera
- Liqueurs: Sweet like Irish Mist, Drambuie, Cointreau, Kahlua, Tia Maria, Amaro
- Liqueurs: Bitter like Averna, Zwack, Strega
- Distilled spirits: Whiskey, Ouzo, Tequila
- Liquor cocktails: Rusty Nails, Black Russian, Old Fashioned etc.
While choosing an after dinner drink it is important to keep in mind its pairing with coffee and dessert. Let us talk in more detail about some popular digestifs.
- Cognac: A grape based brandy from the Cognac region of France is a great traditional digestif. Reserve de Martell is one of the most prized cognacs; it is full bodied and floral and pricey too.
- Armagnac: One of France’s oldest spirit, the Armagnac is again distilled from grapes this time grown in the Armagnac region and made in alembic stills. It has a beautiful blend of floral and oak flavours.
- Schnapps: Fruity distilled spirits that are really potent available in a variety of flavours like peach, apricot, apple, cinnamon, watermelon etc.
- Grappa: An Italian at home always ends his meal with an eau de vie, his home brewed grappa made from fermented grape juice and pulp
- Limoncello: This is another delightful Italian eau de vie made with lemon zest, sugar and spirit.
- Calvados: From the areas around Lower Normandy this apple brandy tastes like distilled cider and tastes great on a cold evening.
- Fernat Branca: A popular bitter digestif can hit you with its bitterness but it also has a touch of sweetness. Prominent flavours in this drink are anise, saffron and mint
- Green Charteause: A secret recipe of the Carthusian monks of France, this is the only alcoholic drink that boasts of a natural green colour and has a colour named after it. It has more than 130 herbs, plants and flowers that contribute to its intriguing taste.
- Digestif cocktails
- The Brandy Alexander is 1 oz Martell shaken with 1oz crème de cacao and 1 oz fresh cream and cracked ice. Served garnished with chocolate shavings it is a delicious after dinner drink.
- The Grasshopper is a sinfully tasty chocolate and mint flavoured digestif.
- After dinner liqueurs are available in assorted flavours, one of the favourites being Bailley’s Irish Cream. A coffee cream liqueur that can easily replace a dessert.
The list of digestifs or tipples after dinner goes on.
The delights are innumerable. Digestifs are truly a great way to end a meal.