Before & After Dinner Libations with a purpose
Aperitifs & Digestifs
Yes, this is an old-fashioned concept, but one that is still valid. These pre and post dinner drinks became widespread in the 19th century in Italy, where they were served at fashionable cafes. The two terms are French and mean to 'open' and for 'digestion,' or before and after dinner drink, usually alcoholic.
In the mid-1800s a chemist derived a brew to help fight malaria with quinine. He added herbs and spices to mask the sharpness of the quinine. It became a very popular aperitif known as Dubonnet.
An Aperitif cocktail is served before a meal. The proper aperitif is one that will stimulate your appetite and prepare your stomach and taste buds for dinner. This cocktail should be light, non-filling, not sweet, but dry, lower in alcohol and easy to drink. A true aperitif will be a gin-based drink, such as a gimlet, Manhattan or a classic martini. A great Aperitif is an Aperol Spritz. The Aperol has an herbal orange flavor and is commonly mixed with a Prosecco.
Here are some common Aperitif Cocktails:
4.5 oz. Prosecco, 2.5 oz. Aperol, ¾ oz. club soda, orange garnish.
Place all ingredients in a container with ice, stir well, strain into a cocktail glass, garnish with orange wedge.
1.5 oz. gin, ½ oz. fresh lime juice, ½ oz. simple syrup, lime wedge
Place all ingredients in a container with ice, stir well, strain into a cocktail glass, garnish with a lime wedge.
A Digestif is your after-dinner cocktail. It should help you wind down and digest that amazing meal you just had. Often these drinks are sweeter and higher in alcohol.
Port, dessert liquors, bourbon, sherry or a big bold wine. Cognac and Madeira are also often on this list, as is distilled liquors such as aquavit, ouzo or mezcal. All these drinks should help settle your stomach after a heavy dinner.
So, while this seems a big 'old-school,' try it and see if you aren't a bit more refreshed after your heavy meal.