- Chez Panisse opens (1971)
The Best After-Dinner Cocktails and Spirits
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If the terms "food coma" or "the -itis" have ever passed your lips after a heavily indulgent meal, then you can relate to the feelings I’m about to describe: you’re so full from the decadent spread that you may or may not have inhaled that you can’t bear to move in any direction, let alone get out of your chair. This feeling can be pretty horrendous, and for some of us, an antacid of sorts will do the trick. For the rest of us, drinks of the "fizzle fizzle" variety just don’t cut it.
Chances are you’re familiar with the "aperitif," or "before dinner" drink. The point of this pre-meal beverage is to stimulate the appetite with the use of a dry alcohol, i.e. a glass of champagne or vermouth. At the end of the meal, we are presented with the opposite of the aperitif, known as the digestif. Where before the meal, we drink to get ready to eat, after the meal we drink to aid digestion. Sweet or bitter liqueurs are most commonly consumed as digestives, so rounds of brandy, Scotch, or Fernet Branca are all great choices.
But why indulge in one more drink after dinner, you ask?
Besides the reason stated above, the spirits that are most commonly used as digestives are pretty fantastic, assuming you’ve gotten your hands on some quality post-dinner hooch. You may not think that a shot of Chartreuse will do anything for your over-stuffed gullet, but I guarantee after you try it, you’ll find the purchase of antacids from the pharmacy positively mundane. A few ounces of sweet and smoky armagnac, or a chalky, chewable tablet? The choice is yours.
Traditionally, the after-dinner cordial is enjoyed straight up, but that doesn’t mean you can’t mix up a simple cocktail using a digestif for a little extra kick during digesting. We’re not talking several ingredients — this drink is meant to calm the stomach, not refill it — but if liquor served neat isn’t your style, there’s no reason you transformed our digestif into a full-fledged drink. Try your hand at a French Connection, a classic Old Fashioned or a Brandy Port. Paired with a fine cigar, your nightcap just got a whole lot classier.
Now that you’re fully informed on what to drink after dinner, there’s only one thing to do: go do it! Prepare yourself a feast, and assist your belly in digestion with one (or all) of these delicious digestives. Boozing is supposed to be enjoyable, right? You just had an enjoyable meal, so you should enjoy one more drink as well. Cheers!
— Sara Kay, The Spir.it
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