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Drink Primer

The Aperitif & Digestif


As a culture, we appreciate a good, stiff drink and rarely shy away from the opportunity to enjoy one. It's surprising then that the American concept of pairing food and drink is largely limited to one glass with one plate, say a Malbec with your hanger steak. Enter the customary French art of the aperitif and digestif, the suitably alcoholic bookends to your main course that stimulate the appetite and aid in digestion. They're currently enjoying a resurgence on cocktail lists, but here's how to make one for yourself.



You want something light with a dry finish that borders on bitter over sweet. Aperitifs like vermouth and Lillet are typically wine-based with closely guarded herbal ingredients. Keep yours free of fuss with this simple recipe:

- 2 oz. Lillet Blanc ($19 at BevMo)

- ½ oz. lemon sour (half lemon juice, half simple syrup)

- dry sparkling wine like cava

- 1 orange twist

Stir the Lillet and lemon sour and top off with dry sparkling wine over ice. Finish with a twist of orange peel.



Once you've finished your meal, the dynamic of your drink should change accordingly. Now you want a sweeter, higher proof drink that matches the richness of whatever you just had. Common digestifs include port, sherry, Calvados, and Cognac. But we'd suggest trying the lesser known and twice distilled Armagnac like Chateau de Laubade VSOP, served neat.

Chateau de Laubade, $45 at K&L Wines

    The herbal compounds in the spirits are believed to complement digestion, but the secret is taking a longer time to enjoy your meal.