Grappa, cognac, brandy, Armagnac or malt whisky are just some of the members of the large family of digestives, these drinks revered for its ability to assist the digestive process, mainly because of its high alcohol content and even the herbs or oils that make them up. Those who enjoy these drinks, call them “pousse café” (after coffee), due to the time of drinking, and advise to serving them, almost everyone, at room temperature, except grappa, which is used to drink cold, and cognac, which should be drunk at the same temperature as the body, 36° C.
Often confused with appetizers, motivators of appetite, the digestives differ by their body, given generally by the high alcohol content, and their dry and bitter character. However, not only the spirits are part of this select group. They are also fortified wines like port and sherry. These wines receive, before finishing their fermentation, an addition of higher volume of alcohol, and therefore are generally sweet. Similarly, it is possible to consume dry digestive liquors, such as Chartreuse, Benedictine, Cointreau, Drambuie, Grand Marnier, Curacao and Frangelico, i.e. alcohols infused with aromas, flavors and even some properties like the Fernet, a popular bitter drink made with carminative herbs.
The digestives, also called "waters of life", are known by this name because with their discovery was found an alternative cure to the plagues contracted by ingesting contaminated water. In contrast, the reason why they are called at the same time "spirits" is another, and responds to the fact that in the distillation of the liquid, which remains is always the heart or spirit of the beverage. This essence is obtained by subtraction and concentration of alcohol and added flavors such as orange, herbs, nuts. This extraction is done by condensing the vapors of the macerated brew after heating it.
These miraculous waters come from diverse origins yet possess a particular characteristic in common: they are almost all products distilled in small alembics or boilers. For this reason, their development requires an almost artisan care. Such is the case of wine distillates known as cognac, armagnac and brandy, which take their names depending on the area where they are elaborated. For example, the first and the second belong to a specific region of France, and brandy is the generic name which get all the spirits of wine from any other place. In addition, there are also spirits made with fermented fruit juice, such as plum or pear. One of the best known is the cherry-made, called Kirsch, or the apple-made, called Calvados, like the region where it is elaborated.