A few courses of heavy creams and foie gras and breads and the French stand right up after dinner and sashay down cobblestone streets, probably to go dancing. A whole paella and a kilo or so of patatas bravas and jamón and Spaniards get right up to fight some bulls. Or at least climb a few flights to their apartments. Their post-gorge vitality is all thanks to dinnertime silver bullet Americans are only just getting warmed up to: the handy dandy digestif. That is, any number of strong, sometimes sweet, liquors that both cleanse the palette and immediately alleviate the after effects of eating to one’s heart’s content. We figured the eat-nap-eat-nap cycle of Thanksgiving might have been too sacred to sacrifice, but a rough knowledge of the digestif should be a big leg-up for the remainder of the holiday season.
Most every liquor-consuming culture has one or more spirits that can work well as a digestif—from Tennessee whiskey to Turkic Arak. Our primer is by no means an exhaustive guide, but rather a pleasant toe dip into a fascinating and incredibly rich subset of booze.