Have you ever had an upset stomach after a large meal and took some pepto bismol to relieve it? I admit, back in the old days, I would do so too. But did you know that there is a healthier, more natural way to achieve the same effect? I’m talking about digestifs!
Digestifs are drinks that are traditionally served after dinner as a way to calm down one’s stomach and prevent digestive problems. The tradition of serving digestifs originates from Italy. They go in pair with aperitifs – drinks served before dinner to stimulate the stomach and prepare it for the meal. Most digestives are alcoholic drinks.
I prepare my own digestifs at home to aid my digestive health. I drink them after I had dinner that can potentially cause me health issues like a bloated stomach (so typically after I eat out or have dinner at a house of someone who is not so into clean eating as I am). And I sleep like a baby afterward! They are good not only after a heavy meal but also as a way to help your stomach after an evening of drinking alcohol (yes, you can help yourself with more alcohol) or as a way to relax after a stressful day.
The main ingredients of my homemade digestifs are alcoholic bitters (also homemade, you can read up on some of my recipes in another post). That’s what bitters were actually first used for – as medicine! They are not that popular now although I must say they are starting to become trendy again. Mostly as a way of enhancing the cocktail flavor but still, that’s something.
The best thing about homemade bitters is that you can fully control what they taste like! There are endless possibilities and ingredients you could use. Bitters are a mixture of a basic liquor, like whiskey or vodka, and an infusion of spices, herbs, flowers, peels, or barks. Most common bitters are usually called aromatic bitters and they include common spices like cinnamon or star anise and infusions of cassia, gentian, and others. There is also a separate group of orange bitters which can be further divided into fresh orange bitters and spicy orange bitters. All of which can be made at home!
A homemade digestive is a combination of a bitter and soda. I usually use my own homemade water kefir (unflavored) or, if I don’t have on hand, regular mineral water.
- a tall glass
- a swizzle stick
- unflavored water kefir OR mineral water (how to make water kefir)
- about 5 dashes of your chosen bitter (how to make aromatic bitters)
- ice cubes
- Fill your tall glass with ice cubes up to 3/4 of its height.
- Pour in the bitter over the ice cubes.
- Fill the glass to the top with unflavored water kefir or mineral water.
- Stir with a swizzle stick to combine both ingredients.