After-Dinner Tipples: Digestifs Straight Up Cocktails and Spirits

updated May 2, 2019
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(Image credit: Nora Maynard)

It’s been a full week of dinner coverage here at The Kitchn. How about a little glass of something to round off the meal?

We’ve posted about apéritifs before, those appetite-stimulating lead-ins to an evening meal, but today we’re going to be looking at the very last course in the alcoholic beverage menu: the digestif.

As the name might suggest, digestifs were originally believed to aid digestion. While apéritifs tend to be lighter in alcohol – something to stimulate the appetite but not numb the palate – digestifs are consumed on a full stomach and so tend to be on the stronger side. They are typically served neat (no ice) in small quantities and savored as a leisurely wind-down to a meal.

The possibilities are nearly endless, but here are some popular sipping choices:

Aged Spirits

Single-Malt Scotch

Aged Rum

Añejo (a premium aged tequila)

Cognac (a brandy from the Cognac region of France)

Armagnac (a brandy from the Armagnac region of France)

Bitters and Herbal-Flavored Liqueurs
Chartreuse (a French liqueur made with herbal extracts)
Bénédictine (a sweet herbal liqueur from France)
B & B (a.k.a. Bénédictine & Brandy – Bénédictine liqueur diluted with brandy)
Fernet-Branca (an extremely bitter Italian liqueur)

Digestif Cocktails

Fortified Wines
Port (a fortified wine made in many regions of the world, but first originating from the Douro Valley of Portugal)
Sherry (a fortified wine from Jerez, Spain)
Marsala (a fortified wine from Marsala, Sicily)
Madeira (a fortified wine from the Madeira Islands of Portugal)

Sweet Dessert Liqueurs
Sambuca (an anise-flavored liqueur from Italy)
Amaretto (a sweet almond-flavored liqueur from Italy)

Do you have a favorite digestif?

Nora Maynard is a longtime home mixologist and an occasional instructor at NYC’s Astor Center. She is a contributor to The Business of Food: Encyclopedia of the Food and Drink Industries and is the recipient of the American Egg Board Fellowship in culinary writing at the Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow. She previously covered food and drink in film at The Kitchn in her weekly column, The Celluloid Pantry.