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Ask Mr. Gold: Thoughts on Digestifs, or Drinking to Digest

the invisible restaurant critic

Anne Fishbeinthe invisible restaurant critic

Dear Mr. Gold:

What are your thoughts on digestifs? I always want one, especially after a rare, expensive meal, but tend to regret it the next day. Is there a good rule of thumb on drinking after eating a rich meal?

--Scott Vickers, via Facebook

Dear Mr. Vickers:

Is there clinical evidence? Damn the clinical evidence. I cannot imagine a subject less conducive to a proper double-blind study than this one. Because while it may seem counterintuitive, the shock to the system that comes with a slug of Fernet or a jolt of grappa is a useful one -- it's like pushing a reset button on your system. And while a bit of armagnac or 25-year rum can occasionally be edifying, what you need is something strong, fierce and plausibly medicinal, something that snaps the rest of your cells into line. Is it a coincidence that so many of these digestifs are bottled by monks? It is not. Monks know something about penance.

After lunch today, a long, 12-course feast that included hake glands, wildflowers and the steamed double-chin of an Iberico hog, I felt less than human before the glass of patxaran made it to the table. Unsweetened anisette lashed with bitter wild plum? I knew I was alive, happy and free. Works every time. Patxaran is hard to find, but worth the effort. But keep in mind, I am not a trained physician -- I'm a guy who likes to justify an occasional shot of sotol or xtabentĂșn. One-for-the-road is not a sustainable drinking philosophy.