Make Your Own Digestifs

During the winter, you could use another kind of medicinal vitamin D: a digestif. Bright and sometimes herbal, sometimes citrus, digestif drinks do what they say they do. They make your stomach feel better, help you digest a big meal, and, well, they still give you a nice, smooth buzz. The infused liquors soothe and settle your stomach with their herbal mixtures. They are a touch sweet, intensely flavored, and often served chilled and sipped slowly. Make some yourself and see how good (and easy) they can be.

The definition of a digestif is broad, and usually refers to a hard liquor that’s been steeped with various herbs and/or citrus. Limoncello is the best-known digestive liqueur out there, but you may only have had that cheap Lysol-flavored bunk served at many Italian trattorias. The digestifs listed here are a handful of our favorites, though we encourage experimentation (say, with bay leaves, tangerines, or even pomelos). Got extra? Tie a ribbon around the bottle and call it a gift when the occasion arises.

Take the tinkering even further: Once you’ve made the digestive, try using it in our suggested cocktails.

1. Lemon Digestif


Warming with a slight astringency, this is what limoncello should taste like. Get our Lemon Digestif recipe. Then make this:

  • Paradiso: A twist on the classic screwdriver, the Paradiso welcomes a splash of astringent, slightly sweet lemon digestif that pairs well with Aperol or Campari, plus orange juice and orange-flavored vodka. Get the recipe.


2. Mandarin Orange Digestif


Deceptively orange-like in flavor with a hint of acidity, this is the most understated of the lot. Get our Mandarin Orange Digestif recipe. Then make this:

  • Mandarin Orange Old Fashioned Cocktail: The recipe by The Weary Chef is appealing, easy, and tasty, but try something a little different with it. Instead of the packaged mandarin oranges in syrup, use some fresh orange slices and the digestif for an even more sophisticated Old Fashioned. Get the recipe.

The Weary Chef

3. Meyer Lemon Digestif


More subtle than the lemon digestif, with a nice floral note, this could be mistaken as a lemon-orange mixture. Get our Meyer Lemon Digestif recipe. Then make this:

  • The Chunnel: This is a martini that requires a little French treatment to it, with St-Germain elderflower liqueur. With your Meyer lemon digestif infusion, it will be out of this world. Get our The Chunnel recipe.


4. Pomelo Digestif


This recipe relies on the peel from pomelos to create a wonderfully aromatic liqueur. Get our Pomelo Digestif recipe. Then make this:

  • Pomelo Chili Paloma Cocktails: This tongue twister is easier to swallow than say. Substitute or simply add your pomelo digestif into this tequila-based, spicy, and bright cocktail by Brooklyn Supper. Get the recipe.

Brooklyn Supper

5. Blood Orange Digestif


Sweeter, redder, and more intense in flavor, color, and aroma than regular oranges, the blood orange is more of everything you love about oranges. Get our Blood Orange Digestif recipe. Then make this:

  • Perfect Margarita: Use your blood orange digestif in place of Cointreau in this Mexican-inspired cocktail. Get our Perfect Margarita recipe.


— Amy Sowder contributed to this article on Jan. 26, 2017; originally published Oct. 30, 2008.


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