The Art of the Digestivo
Just like Italian aperitivi, after-dinner counterparts come in a variety of types and flavors. Richer, sweeter and typically more potent than aperitivi, digestivi are packed with stomach-settling herbs and spices to aid in digestion. These curative spirits range from fiery grappa to ultra-bitter liqueurs like Fernet Branca to sweet, viscous limoncello.
“The extreme, rooty bitterness of many digestivi make them an acquired taste for many Americans,” Brennan says. “But one amaro that is universally loved is Amaro Montenegro because its pleasant orange flavor appeals to nearly everyone. If a guest likes that, I'll often move onto my personal favorite, Amaro Sibilla, which is made from herbs and honey from the Sibillini Mountains.” Our favorite gateway digestivo is Amaro del Capo, a pleasant, balanced blend of sweet and bitter notes.
Bitter amari become easier to drink with experience, and you just have to keep sipping until your find your favorite (hard work, we know). Most authentic Italian restaurants will have a solid list of digestivi, so make it a point to try a different digestivo after every meal. That way, you can find your digestivo match without having to go through full bottles.
Once you’ve mastered the art of drinking like an Italian, you’ll fit right in at a Florentine cafe—until you try and pronounce anything. That’s a different lesson for another day.