Digestifs are used after food to aid digestion, or just because…. They have a fairly high alcohol content and may have a medicinal taste, as most are herb-based.
There is an art to learning to drink digestifs: first bit of advice, never, ever take it in a shot glass. Try gently maneuvering a small amount straight to the back of your throat for the first couple of sips. Believe me, it helps. As you will see below, Green Chartreuse is a work of art, but still today, on the rare times a digestif seems in order, I avoid letting it slide over or linger on my tongue for the first few sips.
Green Chartreuse (French): This is my personal favorite. There are several Chartreuse liqueurs but the Green is classic and is a true digestif. French Carthusian Monks have been making Chartreuse since the 1700′s. In 1605, the monks received as a “gift,” a recipe for an “Elixir of Long Life.” It was almost 100 years before the “elixir” became reality. The recipe is a cherished secret and the secret has survived for 300 years. We are told Green Chartreuse is macerated over 130 herbs, plants, roots and leaves into a base wine of alcohol. The green color is natural. Drink it straight. Enjoy the sensations going on in your nose. A slight chill is appropriate only if you prefer. 110 proof (55% by volume). The video below is a good discussion of Chartreuse, and you’ll learn that chewing Chartreuse is preferred to throwing it to the back of your throat.
About Chartreuse V.E.P. Courtesy of Bounty Hunter (video)
Strega (Italian): An herbal liqueur dating back to the 1860s. Saffron gives it a beautiful golden hue. Strega claims 70 herbs in the mix, including mint and fennel – and the flavor is minty, and a bit sweet. Popular in some desserts, especially the Italian Cassata cake. 80 proof (40% by volume)
Jägermeister (German): Herbs and spices. For some reason, very popular in college town bars, where it almost always morphs into a mixed drink. Originally, along with being given medicinally to aid digestion, it cured a cough as well. Probably still would today. Jägermeister is enormously popular. If you partake, check your chest for increased hair growth. Watch the video below. 70% proof (35% by volume)