By Scott Kearnan
After stuffing yourself with a turkey feast, you may need a little help settling your stomach – for the next few days. That got us thinking: Where can one find some unique, creative or otherwise top-drawer digestifs around Boston? Here’s a guide to particularly interesting picks and impressive menus that will give you something satisfying to sip on.
The Blue Ox. Like port, but find it a bit heavy? Bar manager Charlie Gaeta recommends Banyuls Blanc, a somewhat rare digestif made in the South of France from white grapes and fortified by pure distilled alcohol. Its similar to port, but the swap of brandy for a neutral spirit yields something slightly lighter and refreshing, says Gaeta.
Casa Portugal. Wake up with Aguardente (Portuguese “firewater”) that is similar to a clear brandy. Made from Vinho Verde region grapes, it’s traditionally enjoyed alongside espresso or coffee after dinner.
Coppa. Fernet is a favore among industry types, but can be off-putting to lighter palates. Coppa’s beverage director Brittany Casos recommends Braulio, an Amari from the Alpines in Northern Italy, which has similarly piney notes (perfect for the holidays) in a less aggressive form.
Eastern Standard. Naomi Levy, a recently anointed bar star to watch, suggests the Brazilian digestif Cachaça, particularly the Leblon Reserva label. Cachaça is a spirit distilled from sugar cane juice, and the reserve is aged in cognac casks. The result: a complex, smooth spirit with notes of honey, caramel, and pine nuts.
Empire. Last year’s 30 Under 30 honoree Joe O’Connor guides us to Gammel Dansk, a dry Danish liqueur that is peppery and herbal. Danes tend to pour some at festive occasions, and it is even considered acceptable as a morning drink at celebratory breakfasts.
Foundry on Elm. Manny Gonzalez, beverage director at this Davis Square American brasserie, suggests sipping slivovitz, a Czech distilled spirit made from Damson plums. (It’s often called “plum brandy.”) Served at room temp, it’s a traditional good-time tipple, and Gonzalez particularly likes the R. Jelinek label.
Merrill & Co. Under the direction of last year’s 30 Under 30 honoree Kevin Mabry, this South End seafood spot has become known for its sherry program. The just-revamped bar menu spotlights fine finos, amontillados, and olorosos to be serbed neat, and house cocktails like Chipiona, which pairs Fino sherry with gin, vermouth and celery bitters.
Nebo. You grab grappa at any number of Italian restaurants, but this Atlantic Wharf spot boasts a bread selection of more unusual digestifs from the boot: like Strega, a mint-and-fennel-flavored liqueuer, and Tuaca, an oak-aged Italian brandy with notes of vanilla and orange.
Via Matta. Because a digestif signals the end to a meal, might as well enjoy it with dessert. Via Matta does with its affogato (pictured), a traditional dessert that typically tops ice cream or gelato with an espresso shot. Michael Schlow’s Back Bay favorite adds Italian liqueur Averna to the mix, creating a cool ice cream-meets-coffee cocktail in the process. Bellissimo!