Classic Digestifs

Mixologist and restaurateur Joe Campanale demonstrates how to prepare and serve some of his favorite after-dinner drinks to help aid digestion. There is a wide variety of digestifs, including many with strong alcohol content and bitter flavors. Joe highlights grappa, Amaro, Nocino, and Sambuca.

Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Joe Campanale, you're watching Today, we're going to talk about Digestifs, or in Italy they call them Digestivi. These are spirits that you drink after a meal and their purpose is to help aid in digestion. You'll often find them in the back corner of your liquor store covered in dust. But don't be afraid of them, they're absolutely delicious, and a unique way to end your meal. Digestifs fall into two categories, they're generally either on the very strong side, like Grappa. Or, on the bitter side, like an Italian Digestif called Amaro. I'm going to take you through a couple of my favorites. And, let's start with Grappa, so this is one of my favorites Grappas, it's from a distillery called Poli. And if you've ever had Grappa before, it's based on pomace. Which is everything that's left over, after you've made wine. So, that's the seeds, the skins and a little bit of the pulp. In the past, Grappas had a reputation for being of really harsh products, sometimes the flavors of wet soapy sponge, or jet fuel. But Grappa has come a long way. There are some really beautiful and elegant products that you can have after your meal. I like to use this tulip shaped glass. The tulip glass will allow you to smell the Grappa and it concentrates the flavors right in this area over here. But without really burning your nose from the alcohol. Um, this is sort of an earthier Grappa, it's made from Pinot Noir grapes. You can also have a Grappa that's made from more aromatic grapes. And if you like that sort of thing, ask for a Grappa made from Moscato. There's also Grappa that's infused with different bitter herbs or spices. And sometimes you can even find an oak aged Grappa, and that really reminds you of a brandy or a Cognac, and it'll be brown in color. Maybe my favorite type of after dinner drink, is called Amaro. Now, Amarao is an Italian, bitter, herbal after dinner drink, and they're made all over Italy. This one's from the Ramazzotti Distillery from Milan. Every single Amaro is very, very different, and they trace their roots back to the monastic tradition. Where you would buy different herbal, medicinal cures for whatever that'll do. And today, Italians drink Amaro after their meal to aid in digestion, if they've eaten maybe a little bit too much. So, every Amaro is very different, and they range from sort of bitter-sweet to intensely bitter. The most widely exported Amaro is also the most bitter, it's called Fernet-Branca. And Fernet's actually a style and Branca is the brand. And this one, when you taste it, it really reminds you, it really reminds you of medicine. I mean, this is sort of one of those things, where a spoonful of sugar would help the Fernet-Branca go down. And you can see how this has a direct co-relation to those herbal medicinal cures, super dry and bitter. Now, something that's not quite as common, but I like, really I like it quite a bit, is something that's called Nocino. It's based on green walnuts and it has an infusion of different herbal and warming spices. Such as cinnamon, cardamom, clove and allspice. It's something that's a little bit more obscure, but it's definitely worth trying. Another great after dinner drink, is called Sambuca. It's flavored with black licorice and produced in Italy. But all over Europe, they drink, anise flavored and black licorice flavored after dinner drinks. In Lebanon, it's Arak, in Greece it's Ouzo. And a lot of times, they'll drink this with half Sambuca and some water. You see that it sort of gets a little bit cloudier in the water. So, next time you want to end your meal, and impress your friends with something a little bit different and unique. Pull out a Digestivi, like Amaro, Grappa or Sambuca. Thanks so much for watching, I'm Joe Campanale, tune into for more.

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