Bartender-Recommended Post-Thanksgiving Digestifs
'Tis the season for overdoing it, which means it's helpful to have a trusty digestif in your back pocket. These soothing herbal liqueurs help settle the stomach after a big dinner (the bookend to a meal started with an aperitif, which is meant to awaken the palate). We asked this city's bartenders to tell us what they'll be drinking after the big feast -- sip these neat or on the rocks; you might still want to lay around like a beached whale after dinner, but at least you won't be afraid you'll actually perish.
Jesus Dehesa via Flickr
Julie Reiner, Clover Club, 210 Smith Street
After stuffing my face with way too much food, I generally look to either Amaro Nonino or Cynar. Amaro Nonino is pricier than most other amari, but worth every penny! I mix cocktails with so many amari, but this one has so much going on that I prefer to drink it straight. Cynar is very affordable and approachable for someone who is new to digestives. I particularly enjoy the slightly sweet green tea notes in Cynar and the fact that it is relatively low in alcohol in comparison to other amari.
Greg Boehm, Golden Cadillac, 13 First Avenue
After a large meal I like to drink a shot of half rye and half Amaro Nonino. One time after shooting this concoction, my insides made a "glug, glug, glug" noise, and I was ready for dessert.
Allen Burton, A.G. Kitchen, 269 Columbus Avenue
After I've had third helpings of oh-my-god-why-can't-I-stop-eating-the-stuffing, I cap off dinner with something simple that won't put any extra strain on the pants that fit me a mere hour ago: a bourbon neat, something smokey and delicious like Bulleit. But for my family, none of whom are big drinkers, I would recommend something much lighter and sweeter like Grand Marnier.
Robert Krueger, Extra Fancy, 302 Metropolitan Avenue, Brooklyn
After Thanksgiving dinner, because there is a significant chance that even though I'm "done" eating I'm probably going to go back for a bit more dessert, I would definitely pick an Italian Amaro that gets along with pie; something that has the spice and bitterness that you want to wrap things up but also a little sweetness and caramel so that it cooperates with sweet foods is the right idea. Amaro Montenegro from Bologna would be a perfect choice: A little sweet, a little citric and spicy, and a bit bitter. But if you want to get really fancy, combine a whiskey, rum, or tequila you like with a small amount of an amaro (and a dash of bitters if you have them on hand). Old Overholt Rye Whiskey with Amaro Meletti is terrific. A rich reposado or añejo tequila with a splash of Montenegro is out of this world.
David Giuliano, Market Table and The Little Owl, 54 Carmine Street and 90 Bedford
After Thanksgiving dinner, we always open a bottle Basil Hayden's bourbon, drink it neat, and watch Charlie Brown's Christmas. Not exactly a digestive, but it works.
As for a true digestive i'd recommend cardamaro. It's an Italian amaro made with cardamom. Notes of Asian spice, herbs, molasses, and almond paste. It's delicious and really helps cut through the stuffing.
Patrick Cappiello, Pearl & Ash, 220 Bowery
Chinatos are the best digestifs. They are fortified wines made in Barolo in the Piedmont region of Italy, and they are fermented with a variety of local herbs and spices. One of my favorites is from Mauro Vergano, appropriately named "Americano" -- perfect for Thanksgiving!
Olivier Flosse, A Voce, 10 Columbus Circle
After a grand meal with a lot of good food and wine, I suggest a digestivo that will really soothe the stomach with a dry-herb base, like Averna. The poplar Italian bitter liqueur is still made with the original recipe from 1868. It combines a variety of herbs, roots, and citrus rinds that soak in liquor and a caramel finish. The result is a sweet, thick digestivo with a gentle, herbal bitter bite. I like to drink it neat or on the rocks.
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