Jump to content

Apéritif and digestif

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from Aperitif)

Apéritifs (/əˈpɛrɪtf/; French: [apeʁitif]) and digestifs (/dʒɛˈstf/) are drinks, typically alcoholic, that are normally served before (apéritif) or after (digestif) a meal respectively.


Fino sherry is a classic apéritif.

An apéritif is an alcoholic beverage usually served before a meal to stimulate the appetite, and is usually dry rather than sweet. Common choices for an apéritif are vermouth; champagne; pastis; gin; ouzo; fino; amontillado or other styles of dry sherry (but not usually cream or oloroso blended sherry, which is very sweet and rich).

An apéritif may be served with an hors d'oeuvre or amuse-bouche, such as crackers, cheese, pâté, quiche or olives.[1][2]

Apéritif is a French word derived from the Latin verb aperire, which means "to open".[3] The French colloquial word for apéritif is apéro.


Apéritifs have existed since at least the fifth century as evidenced by the statement in Philokalia "People who wish to discipline the sexual organs should avoid drinking those artificial concoctions which are called 'aperitifs'—presumably because they open a way to the stomach for the vast meal which is to follow."[4]

In 1796, Turin distiller Antonio Carpano invented modern vermouth.[5][6]

Apéritifs paired with mixed nuts and bread twists

Apéritifs became widespread in 19th century Italy, where they were being served in fashionable cafés in Turin (where modern vermouth was created), Rome, Genoa, Florence, Milan and Venice.

An apéritif known as Dubonnet was introduced in France in 1846, created by chemist Joseph Dubonnet as a means of delivering malaria-fighting quinine. The medicine was a bitter brew, so he developed a formula of herbs and spices to mask quinine's sharp flavor, and it worked so well that the recipe has remained well-guarded ever since. French Foreign Legion soldiers made use of it in mosquito-infested Northern Africa. Dubonnet's wife was so fond of the drink that she had all her friends try it, and its popularity spread.[citation needed]

Apéritifs became very popular in Europe, an appeal that crossed the Atlantic; by 1900 they were also commonly served in the United States.

In Spain and in some countries of Latin America apéritifs have been a staple of tapas for centuries.[citation needed]. The custom of having appetizers with an apéritif crossed the Atlantic in the opposite direction in the 1970s, where the habit of a substantial food offering being paired with the purchase of a drink during happy hour in the United States pushed the development of a more food-heavy aperitivo course in Italy as well.[7]


There is no single alcoholic drink that is always served as an apéritif. Fortified wine, liqueur, and dry champagne are probably the most common choices. Because it is served before dining, the emphasis is usually on dry rather than sweet, as a general guideline.


Le Mont Corbier liqueur served as a digestif

A digestif is an alcoholic beverage served after a meal, traditionally believed to aid digestion[8] even though there is not strong evidence to support this.[9] When served after a coffee course, it may be called pousse-café.[10] Digestifs are usually taken neat.

Common kinds of digestif include:

Bitter digestifs typically contain carminative herbs, with the intention of aiding digestion.[11]

In many countries, people drink alcoholic beverages at lunch and dinner. Studies have found that when food is eaten before drinking alcohol, alcohol absorption is reduced[12] and the rate at which alcohol is eliminated from the blood is increased. The mechanism for the faster alcohol elimination appears to be unrelated to the type of food. The mechanism is likely food-induced, which increases alcohol-metabolizing enzymes and liver blood flow.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lichine, Alexis. Alexis Lichine's New Encyclopedia of Wines & Spirits (5th edition) (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1987), 75.
  2. ^ Robinson, Jancis. The Oxford Companion to Wine (3rd edition) (Oxford University Press: 2006), 26.
  3. ^ "The Why and How Of Serving An Aperitif". Everyday Health. November 15, 2017. Retrieved July 14, 2020.
  4. ^ The Philokalia: Vol. 1; St. Diadochos of Photiki, On Spiritual Knowledge; p. 267. Faber and Faber, Inc. New York, New York; 1979.
  5. ^ Bezzone, Francesca (November 12, 2019). "The Old History of the Aperitivo". Life in Italy. Retrieved December 5, 2019.
  6. ^ Brown & Miller, Jared & Anistatia (2011). The Mixellany Guide to Vermouth & Other Aperitifs. Mixellany Limited. p. 44. ISBN 978-1-907434-29-7.
  7. ^ "The Italian Aperitivo". HuffPost. January 5, 2015.
  8. ^ "Digestif". Dictionary.com Unabridged (Online). n.d. Retrieved 6 March 2015.
  9. ^ Steiner, Jennifer L.; Crowell, Kristen T.; Lang, Charles H. (2015-09-29). "Impact of Alcohol on Glycemic Control and Insulin Action". Biomolecules. 5 (4): 2223–2246. doi:10.3390/biom5042223. ISSN 2218-273X. PMC 4693236. PMID 26426068.
  10. ^ "pousse-café". Dictionary.com Unabridged (Online). n.d. Retrieved 6 March 2015.
  11. ^ Walton, Stuart; Miller, Norma (2002). Spirits & Liqueurs Cookbook. New York: Hermes House. pp. 16–17. ISBN 1-84309-498-3.
  12. ^ a b Ramchandani, V.A.; Kwo, P.Y.; Li, T-K. (2001). "Effect of Food and Food Composition on Alcohol Elimination Rates in Healthy Men and Women". Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. 41 (12): 1345–50. doi:10.1177/00912700122012814. PMID 11762562. S2CID 23055197.