Drink Like a European: A Guide to Digestifs

Pete Capella
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There is a lot that we can learn from the Europeans – an appreciation for art, a love for classical composers, and the intelligence to drink a digestif after a meal. The point of a digestif is, as its name suggests, to aid in digestion. They are often composed of a mix of herbs and spices with stomach settling properties. So why haven’t digestifs taken off in America? First, have you ever eaten dinner overseas? Dinner is a tradition that is not rushed, but enjoyed. Sometimes sitting at the dinner table can be a three-hour ordeal. In the United States, on the other hand, dinner (like most things in our get-up-and-go society), is all about scarfing the food down as fast as possible and getting back to whatever it is that you have to do. Restaurant dining also has owners focusing on turning as many tables as possible in one night to make the most money possible. Now while we respect the entrepreneurial visions of these businesses, we are sadly losing out on the tradition of a dinner gathering, not to mention the health benefits of a digestif.

Did we mention that digestifs are delicious? Usually served straight so that you can enjoy the flavor along with the benefits, there are a plethora of digestifs from across the globe. Here are some of the most savory:



Averna Amaro– This thick, sweet liqueur has a medicinal backbone that plays with your palate.


Fernet Branca– The bartender’s staple. Bitter and herbal, it’s like Jagermeister for grown-ups.



Green Chartreuse– French monks secretly blend 130 different herbs, plants and spices to make this sweet and earthy spirit.

Benedictine– Formerly a monk’s brew as well, each bottle of this concoction of herbs, roots and sugar with a cognac base comes labeled with the term D.O.M. This stands for the Latin term ‘Deo Optimo Maximo‘, which translates to “to God, most good, most great”.



Ouzo– Anise-flavored and normally mixed with a small bit of water, it’s like a smoother absinthe.

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