‘Tis the Digestif Season: Wash Down Your Thanksgiving Feast Like a Pro

Amaro, cynar, and fernet are the new holiday flavors

If you love food as much as I do, Thanksgiving is your favorite holiday. All those meats, sides, stuffings, and gravies crammed into one spread! But my stomach can only contain so much food (oh, that I had two), so I went to some of L.A.’s top bartenders to find out what their favorite digestifs are to make room for seconds.

Josh Goldman, Belcampo Meat Co. Santa Monica beverage director: “I like to drink Underberg. No sugar added so it’s like a real classic Fernet. Great for digestion and sending the pain below.”

Nick Krok, Bestia bar director: “My favorite drink after a big meal is a Wild Cat. It’s equal parts amaro and whiskey, served at room temperature. There are endless combinations so it’s fun to try different amaros and whiskey together to see which you like the best. The amaro settles the stomach and gets you ready for dessert and the whiskey keeps the party going. A few of these babies and in no time you’ll be feeling nice, munching on that ice cream cake your aunt brought and dancing to ‘Hotline Bling’ like there’s not 10 pounds of turkey in your belly.”

Gabriella Mlynarczyk, Birch general manager: “I usually do Cynar and ginger beer. I love Fever Tree Ginger Beer. Just because of the effervesence. Cynar by itself can be too sweet, especially if you had a bunch of sweet stuff. Ginger beer makes it lighter and effervescent and helps you belch. I do shots of Angostura bitters. Amaro Angostura has got a little bit more of the cinchona bark so it’s a bit more tannic, like a black tea that’s been brewed a long time. It has more tannins than Cynar so it finishes slightly dry and slightly sweeter. It’s a woody finish that I really like.”

Avery Underhill, Butchers & Barbers bar manager: “If I’m going to have something after dinner, normally I just want to take a shot of Fernet but I’ve been very excited about this Fernet Francisco which is out of the Bay Area, made in Richmond. It’s delicious. It’s a little less herbaceous and it’s a little less bitter than standard Fernet so it’s a little more approachable in the palate but it’s delicious. It helps you digest and get you to Round Two. Here at Butchers & Barbers we’re making a cocktail, Peter’s Behavior which uses it. It’s a great after-dinner drink.”

Nick Meyer, Fiscal Agent barman: “It’s the traditional Italian liqueur Vov that Steve Samson from Sotto makes from scratch. It’s Marsala wine, egg yolks, sugar, and a little Hamilton 151 rum and Ramazzotti amaro. It’s like a mix between Italian egg nog and an amaro flip. It’s ridiculously delicious, and the perfect way to slip into a food-induced coma on the recliner after Thanksgiving dinner.”

Jason Eisner, Gracias Madre beverage director: “Over the holidays, I like to pick at my food. A little ToFurkey here, some mashed potatoes there, etc. Drinking Calvados in the middle of my nosh allows me to digest my food before I’m too far gone and lying face down on the couch. This year, I will be drinking a special organic Calvados called Familial L. Dupont Vintage 1989 Pays d’Auge. It’s a bit pricey, but what the hey…it’s the holidays. Treat yourself!”

Ryan Wainwright, Viviane and Terrine director of bar programs: “Cynar, Cynar, Cynar. There is no better digestif after going to town on all your favorite comfort foods. It settles my stomach in a flash and it’s low in alcohol so I won’t feel it tomorrow. Since Terrine is open on Thanksgiving, I am definitely putting a shot of Cynar and a Steigl on the specials for the day.”