Just as a checkered flag signals the end of a race, the appearance of a digestif (or digestivo, as they’re known in Italy) at the table is an indication the meal—and the evening—is coming to close. But beyond the symbolism of a flag, a digestif serves an important purpose: The post-meal drink is meant to aid digestion, as its name implies, and ease the discomfort of an indulgent meal.
A motley assortment of everything from port and amari to Cognac and scotch, the digestif category is about as diverse as it gets. Post-dinner drinks vary not only from country to country but from family to family. Some prefer a stiff pour of liquor, some a cream liqueur, still others a shot of chilly limoncello.
While some digestifs may be similar in style and aroma to aperitifs, there’s a clear difference in the after-dinner drink’s richer, sweeter and more potent flavors. The digestif is the post-dessert dessert, a rich treat that inspires droopy eyelids and eases bellies.