Thanksgiving relief: Amaro or other digestivos to enjoy after dinner
The idea of a digestivo is more an Italian concept than something we Americans practice. But maybe we should. The sipping of an amaro (bitter) or vermouth, which are basically fortified wines infused with myriad botanicals and herbs, really does soothe the stomach after a rich meal.
In Italy, the digestivo of choice is an amaro -- the country makes dozens in different styles. You may be familiar with the rough bitterness of mentholated Fernet Branca; fortunately, there are much more alluring and nuanced examples.
Here are a few to search for at your local retailer:
Made in Bologna since the 1860s, Amaro Montenegro is very floral, with notes of rosewater, vanilla, citrus peel and, at the end, a pronounced bitterness. Delightful after a rich dinner. About $30, 750 milliliters.
Amaro Meletti has a lovely complexity and tastes of toasted almonds or hazelnuts. It’s also one of the best bargains in amaro right now. About $20, 750 milliliters.
Nonino Quintessentia Amaro, from one of Italy’s top grappa producers, does include a little of the spirit in the family recipe. Based on grappa aged in casks of French oak and ex-sherry barrels, the amaro is infused with herbs from the mountains. About $45, 750 milliliters.
Carpano Antica Formula dal 1786 Vermouth is an intensely aromatic red vermouth from Italy, from a recipe that dates back to 1786. It’s layered with flavors of bitter marmalade, coffee and almonds. Serve chilled on its own or in a Manhattan. About $29, 1 liter.
Central Coast winemaker Doug Margerum has produced one of the first -- if not the first -- American amaro. Made from fortified wine infused with botanicals and herbs, Margerum Amaro is aged outdoors in casks. Drink it on its own or as the bitter component in a Manhattan. About $45, 750 milliliters.
In Colorado, the family-owned distillery Leopold Brothers makes Fernet Leopold Highland Amaro. This new world amaro is infused with more than 20 botanicals, including rose petals, elderflower, chamomile and honeysuckle. Spearmint gives it a unique freshness, but it still has that welcome bitter kick. Intriguing and delicious. About $36, 750 milliliters.
And for something completely different:
Sea Cider Prohibition Schreech Barrel Aged Cider. It’s an organic hard cider made from aromatic apples aged in high-proof rum barrels from Newfoundland. It has notes of burnt caramel, toffee, molasses and sweet spices. Ideal for savoring after dinner. About $25, 750 milliliters.
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