If you’ve had a lovely long, relaxing meal that you wished would go on forever then you already understand the appeal of an after-dinner digestif.
Enjoyed either at the table, or perhaps after retiring somewhere more comfortable, a digestif is the closing act of a good dinner, a final drink which prolongs the enjoyment and delays the inevitable goodnights.
An aid to digestion
Thought to aid digestion (hence the name), there is actually some science behind the noble digestif, in that alcohol stimulates the stomach’s production of the chief digestive enzyme, pepsin.
The use of herbs such as caraway, fennel, savory and mint in traditional digestifs such as Fernet Branca and Chartreuse enhance the digestion stimulating properties of this post-meal drink.
A liquid dessert
As much as alcohol may help in digestion, digestifs aren’t exactly medicinal and most people today enjoy them more for their social function as the final drink of an enjoyable dinner.
Because they come at the end of a meal, many traditional digestifs are slightly sweet to complement the coffee and to satisfy our desire for sweet things at the end of a meal.
Port and sherry come under this category as does the apple brandy Calvados, Sambuca, grappa, limoncello and any other eau de vie (fruit brandy) but the kings of the after dinner digestif would have to be the grape based brandies Armagnac and Cognac.
And just in case you’re still hungry
The perfect accompaniment for the digestif are petit fours or small sweet treats which give you a hit of sweetness without making you feel overly full. Macaroons and bite-sized biscuits are popular choices for petit fours served with digestifs.
Make your own rules
Ultimately, like it’s pre-dinner cousin the aperitif, there are no hard and fast rules as to what drinks make the perfect digestif. If you finish a great dinner and find you have a craving for a cocktail or a shot of tequila don’t let those brandy-drinkers put you off, a digestif is a digestif.
- Find out more about the art of the perfect aperitif
- Discover the unique Mauritian lychee wine at Constance Le Prince Maurice and Constance Belle Mare Plage
- Shared pleasures, wine tasting at Constance
- For some digestif cocktail ideas visit Barmano.com.