One should never do anything that one cannot talk about after dinner,’ wrote Oscar Wilde in The Picture of Dorian Gray. Whether or not you choose to follow his advice, you’ll know the moment he’s referring to. That time at the table when you’re well fed, enjoying good company and the conversation just flows.
This is the perfect opportunity to enjoy a digestive – digestif or digestivo, depending on your preference – though many of us ignore the post-dinner drinking moment. We might pour another glass of wine, or opt for a coffee. Or we simply might have no idea what to drink after a meal.
In that sense the digestif is completely eclipsed by the aperitif: a drink enjoyed before a meal. ‘I guess that’s because aperitifs are always the first drink and everyone gets more excited about the beginning of the evening rather than celebrating the end of an evening,’ suggests Sandia Chang, sommelier and co-founder of Michelin two-star restaurant Kitchen Table. ‘It’s like the flight to a holiday is a bit more fun and exciting than the flight coming back from one.’
That’s a mistake, as the category of digestive drinks can be just as exciting as aperitifs – and they have a practical purpose. ‘I believe a digestif completes the whole experience,’ continues Chang. ‘Also, digestifs are named for the reason that they help with digestion after a meal. Most traditional digestifs are elixirs and tonics that do have real medical purposes.’
Last but not least
In simple terms, digestifs are alcoholic beverages that are served after a meal to help settle the stomach and aid digestion. They tend to be higher in alcohol than drinks served before or during a meal. Spirits such as whisky and Cognac traditionally fall into this category, as do fortified wines. But they’re just the beginning. Take a look at drinking cultures across Europe and you’ll find plenty more ideas.
‘For Italians, ending a meal with a digestivo is almost a ritual,’ says Matteo Luxardo, export director of Italian liqueur company Luxardo. ‘There are so many spirits that can fulfil this role, so it really depends which part of Italy you’re from. In the north you see a lot of grappa, amaro or fernet; whereas in the centre you tend to see more anise-flavoured drinks. In the south, limoncello is king,’ he adds.
‘You see these flavour profiles in other countries, too. Germany is oriented towards herbal liqueurs, in France they favour anise, while Spain has orujo, which is similar to grappa [distilled from the solids left over from wine production].’
So there are plenty of options. ‘It really depends on what you like and also what you had to eat,’ says Chang. ‘If you prefer something sweet and less strong, fruit liquors or after-dinner cocktails are a great way to finish a meal. If you have had a light lunch or dinner, I would recommend some eau-de-vie [‘water of life’ – colourless fruit brandies]. When you have a heavy meal with lots of butter and sauces, I always like to finish with Cognac or an Armagnac – and of course, whisky is a friendly digestif for any occasion.’
A digestive dram
Are some whiskies better for the purpose than others? Billy Abbott, content and training manager at retailer The Whisky Exchange, has some tips. ‘Generally, I’d look at richer and darker whiskies for after dinner, whiskies that hint at amaros while still being whisky,’ he says. ‘On the Scotch and world whisky front, I’d lean towards Sherry cask-matured whiskies and richer smoky whiskies, or even a combination of the two. For American whiskey, something long-aged and focused on the wood – finding a balanced one can be difficult, but the dark and oaky edges can really work well in a digestif.’
‘Bourbon makes a great after dinner drink due to its…
Source : https://www.decanter.com/spirits/the-best-after-dinner-drinks-514222/