After-dinner drinks have a few important purposes: helping you digest your meal, awakening you from a post-feast coma and temporarily putting off paying the dinner bill. The after-dinner drink category is actually a very broad one that includes everything from different kinds of specialty wines and spirits to simple cocktails and shooters -- meaning that you should be able to find a few after-dinner drinks to your liking.
Wines and wine-based beverages such as dessert, fortified and sparkling wines add a festive touch to the after-dinner routine. Dessert wines like Muscats, ice wines and Sauternes are sweeter due to the types and ages of the grapes used and the ways in which the wines are produced. Fortified wines such as Ports and sherries have a higher amount of alcohol because they have been blended with a distilled spirit. Sparkling wines like Champagne or Prosecco give diners a little post-dinner bubbly buzz.
After-dinner wines are served in either a wine, cordial or champagne glass. Some after-dinner wines may be mixed with other ingredients for an actual cocktail -- such as the Champagne cocktail, which is a sugar cube doused with bitters, then topped with sparkling wine.
Cordials as a group include flavored and creme liqueurs as well as different types of brandies. Some of the most widely ordered and imbibed cordials include Irish cream and various coffee-, chocolate-, orange- and anise-flavored liqueurs. Cordials that are liqueurs are usually served in a cordial glass, as a chilled shot or in a cup of coffee with whipped cream.
Most brandies, including Cognac and Armagnac, are meant to be sipped slowly from a snifter, though flavored and pomace brandies -- which are made from grape pieces leftover from the winemaking process -- like grappa may be served by themselves or as part of a drink. A distant cousin of the cordial is single-malt Scotch whisky, which should be served neat or on the rocks with an occasional splash of water.
Hot beverages like coffee, hot chocolate, apple cider and hot tea are good after-dinner drinks -- either on their own or spiked with some of your favorite booze. Many mixed coffee drinks are quick and simple to make; in addition to liqueurs like Irish cream and chocolate liqueur, coffee may be mixed with vodka, whiskey, rum and even tequila for a hearty after-dinner cocktail.
Hot chocolate is sweet enough to withstand harsher liquors like tequila and whiskey, and the beverage also blends well with more exotic liquors like cinnamon-infused vodka or anise-flavored liqueurs. Hot apple cider with a little bit of rum or flavored vodka makes for a warm refreshing post-feast treat. Hot teas, either caffeinated or herbal, also go well with flavored vodkas and rums as well as fruit liqueurs.
After-dinner cocktails are so numerous that they deserve their own category. Most after-dinner cocktails serve as a dessert substitute so diners can get their sugar fix. Classier cocktails include the Brandy Alexander, which is 3 parts brandy, 1 part creme de cacao and 4 parts half-and-half; and the chocolate martini, which is 2 parts vanilla vodka and 1 part each chocolate liqueur and creme de cacao.
After-dinner cocktails may also be served on the rocks, like the Black Russian, which is equal parts vodka and coffee liqueur, and the White Russian, which is a Black Russian topped with half and half. A few after-dinner shots include the chocolate cake shot, which is equal parts vanilla vodka and hazelnut liqueur, and the B-52, which is equal parts Irish cream and coffee and orange liqueurs.
- After-Dinner Drinks: Choosing, Serving and Enjoying; Jon Beckman
- The New Etiquette: Real Manners for Real People in Real Situations--An A-to-Z Guide Paperback; Marjabelle Young Stewart
- The Wine Lover's Dessert Cookbook: Recipes and Pairings for the Perfect Glass of Wine Paperback; Jennie Schacht and Mary Cech