An Amaro to End Thanksgiving Dinner


Overeating at Thanksgiving dinner is not only accepted, it's practically expected: after the dishes are done, the holiday requires very little from its participants other than a snooze and a half-hearted viewing of Midwestern NFL games. And as many veterans of Turkey Day have learned, the uncomfortable fullness of the huge meal and the added stupor of some good wine can turn into a gastrointestinal nightmare after the fourth quarter ends. So if you want to have your turkey feast but still be peppy for those Black Friday sales, we recommend topping off your dinner with a shot of amaro, the Italian herbal digestif that's best known to San Franciscans as the genus of our beloved Fernet-Branca. Amaros, steeped with a variety of fruits, spices, and roots, are natural food-processing aids: their bitterness causes drinkers to salivate, producing extra digestive enzymes, and also serves as a palate-cleanser after a big meal.

While the insanely popular Fernet might be the most commonly available amaro in town, it's only one product (and a notably bitter one) in a galaxy of amaros. If you find Branca too bitter, you might enjoy the sweeter Averna ($29 at BevMo!), which balances its thick bitterness with hints of caramel, vanilla, apricot, and orange peel. It's the most popular amaro in Italy, and the old-school label makes us feel like Marlon Brando in his Godfather wing chair when we pour a shot. Another great choice is Ramazzoti ($21 at BevMo!), which is lighter and less cloying than Fernet; if you can't handle your amaro straight, this digestif goes nicely with club soda and a twist over ice. For those who've already achieved amaro expertise, you'll find kindred spirit(s) at Rye, whose owner is a connoisseur of the form and carries bottles from several tiny Italian producers. So feel free to have seconds: armed with amaro, that extra piece of pie will go down much easier.

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