piemonte sour at four seasons resort maui

To escape the frenzied, albeit stylish buzz of Milan’s fashion week, I head to a nunnery — and order a Fernet-Branca. Mother Superior might disapprove but, thankfully, she no longer lords over this former Renaissance cloister, transformed some years ago to hold the glamorous  Four Seasons Milan. That’s where I sip the Fernet, in the garden, from an antique-looking, cut-crystal glass, surrounded by people wearing marvelous shoes. (Well, this is fashion week, not to mention Milan). Set just steps from Montenapo, Milan’s rectangle of couture and creative sensibilities, the hotel doesn’t lie far either from Fernet-Branca’s birthplace. The deliciously bitter amaro, which has had a nearly cult following since its inception in 1845, was invented by Milanese alchemist and herbal healer Benardino Branca. The spirit, a fusion of some 40 salubrious, herbaceous ingredients — including cinnamon, saffron, galangal, myrrh, gentian, rhubarb, and more — retains its recipe as a secret to this day. But you’ll  identify a few flavors as you sip the bitter, musky, almost umami-esque concoction, woven together with orange undertones. Drinking it feels like dancing in a garden at midnight beneath a full moon. Back in the day, this amaro was touted as a cure for cholera, fever, nerves, tummy aches, lassitude, and menstrual cramps — among other ailments. Today, it has become the hip way to end an evening, the digestif to claim your cool-kid status at the bar. At Four Seasons Milan, it simply feels like decompression from fashion mania. 

Here’s a list of other digestifs, liqueurs, and after-dinner cocktails to tipple as night draws near. 

The Tipple:

smoky moroccan range at the lowell hotel's jacques bar
Courtesy of The Lowell

Inspired by the Yves Saint Laurent gardens in Marrakech, the Lowell Hotel’s Jacques Bar brings a bit of Morocco to the Upper East Side’s world of brooding brownstones. Amid velvet banquettes and leather-paneled walls, with feet planted on a geometric-tiled floor, sip the smoky Moroccan Orange. Served in a Coupe glass, the Mezcal and orange juice-based after-dinner cocktail gets its milky look and nutty, floral notes from a half-ounce orgeat syrup. 

Noted Ingredient: Orgeat Syrup — a non-alcoholic almond syrup used as a tummy tonic and digestif in medieval times  — plays a role. Mezcal, a time-honored libation. aids in digestion. 

The Tipple:

apéritif bar, viceroy bali
Courtesy, Apéritif Bar, Viceroy Bali

Though it’s called the Apéritif Bar, this elegant watering hotel with vintage vibes at swanky Viceroy Bali offers a slew of after-dinner and late-evening concoctions. Lap up The Composer, a cocktail created by Head Mixologist Panji Wisrawan. It was inspired  by Colin McPhee, renowned as the first Western composer to make a musicological study in Bali. A harmonic rift as complex as a Beethoven sonata, the midnight cocktail features a miso caramel bourbon infusion combined with Fernet-Branca, served in a glass with coffee incense. 

Noted Ingredient: Fernet-Branca is an amaro, and a popular digestif. 

The Tipple:

caviar service with limoncello rosemary spritz at four seasons resort maui at wailea
Courtesy of Four Seasons Resort Maui

Amari have been hailed as the drink of 2024 — and no wonder. The aromatic, herb-and-floral-infused bittersweet drink spirit comes in hundreds of versions, all purported to aid in digestion — among other helpful cures. Try a few at Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea’s recently reimagined oceanfront flagship dining concept, Ferraro’s Restaurant & Bar, which offers a gobsmacking collection of amari (amaros). Crave an alternative nightcap? Go for the Caviar & Limoncello Rosemary Spritz, served table-side with a caviar bump. 

Noted Ingredients: Depending on what secret ingredients are involved, amari may help with a variety of minor health concerns; limoncello, made along the Amalfi Coast for 500 years or more, is a digestive liqueur that can ameliorate with tummy aches, sore throats, and happy moods.x

The Tipple:

coconut-aged old fashioned sea island georgia
Courtesy of Sea Island

The classic boozy nightcap, Old Fashioned, gets reimagined at Sea Island, a fabled resort on Georgia’s coast. Served in the retreat’s new multi-roomed and multi-themed dining concept, Georgian Rooms, the remix libation — Coconut-Aged Old Fashioned — is the brainchild of Head Barman Nic Wallace. He blends Sea Island Private Label WhistlePig Piggyback Rye Madeira — aged in a coconut — with orange Oleo, barrel-aged vanilla, and cacao bitters. Poured directly from the coconut into a glass, the after-dinner cocktail has sophisticated tropical vibes.

Noted Ingredient: Whiskey is a natural digestif. It stimulates stomach enzymes.

The Tipple:

In the otherworldly Sonoran Desert — in Carefree near Scottsdale — The Boulders Resort & Spa provides an oasis of pampering delight. When a day of golfing, hiking, rock climbing, reclining in the spa, or hanging out in a characteristic casita by the fire ends, a late-night digestif in the Palo Verde Restaurant’s Discovery Bar will keep you awake long enough to gaze at the starry midnight sky. Sip Winter’s Night Dram, a delectable fusion of Mi Casa bitters from Arizona, Touched VSOP Cognac, Star Anise Smoked Ice, and Aged Drambuie — topped with Vanilla Porter, a chocolatey ale.

Noted Ingredient: Scottish Drambuie comprises a potpourri of herbs and spices, heather honey, and Scotch whisky — a nip many consider to be medicinal.

The Tipple:

the bar at the royal champagne hotel and spa
Courtesy of Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa

After knocking back tipples of Champagne all day around that celebrated region of the same name, retire to Royal Champagne Hotel and Spa’s contemporary but cozy bar and order up Ratafia to end the evening. Long recognized as the drink of wine growers and grape pickers to cap a meal, this sweetly complex product, artisanal fortified wine, tastes of the vineyard views.

Noted Ingredient: Full of tannins from grapes, often infused with herbs, ratafia aids digestion.

The Tipple:

Perched hillside in Southern California with Pacific panoramas and a warren of paths through the bluffs, the Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach features 400 swish rooms and the Robert Trent Jones Jr-designed Monarch Beach Golf Links. But the party happens in the evening at Chef Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak Orange County, where an old-school beverage program provides the foundations for new-school libations. Post dinner, nip the triple-packed Amore d’Amaro, an extravaganza of three different digestifs — Montenegro, Amaretto, and Fernet Branca — deftly enhanced with 66% Valrhona chocolate and LaMill espresso.

Noted Ingredients: Amaretto, made with almonds, is a popular after-dinner dram. Montenegro, composed of a variety of tummy soothing and digestion activating herbs from mint to cinnamon, has a sweetly bitter taste. The espresso part in the evening? Well, that’s on you. 

The Tipple:

carajillo at grand velas boutique hotel los cabos
Courtesy of Grand Velas Boutique Hotel

If you thought a Carajillo was a new libation — think again. This drink dates back centuries with a slew of purported legends — one being that it dates back to revolutionary times in Cuba when Spanish soldiers mixed coffee with strong spirits to give themselves courage. Sip its trendiest version after dinner with Licor 43 (Cuarenta y Tres) at the chicest new bar in Los Cabos: Bar 51 at Grand Velas Boutique Hotel Los Cabos — a 79-room, all-inclusive, adults-only haven. First dine at the hotel’s sublime Loto, overseen by 2-Michelin Star Chef Sidney Scuttte, then sip your Carajillo at the bar warmed by a fire pit. 

Noted Ingredients: Yellow-hued Licor 43 was invented in 1946 by the Spain-based Zamora family, based on an herb-abundant recipe that may date back to the Romans. Named for its 43 ingredients, the digestif includes botanicals such as lemon, orange, vanilla, and tea. 

Featured image, courtesy of Four Seasons Resort Maui

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