Capping Off the Night: The Best Italian After Dinner Drinks

Homemade Limoncello
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What caps off a great dinner and an evening better than a nightcap? If someone is planning a dinner party and wishes to discover the ideal nightcap, this article is tailored for them. Today, we focus on Italian after dinner drinks, which are great for Italian cuisine but can work with any meal. 

Culture of After Dinner Drinks in Italy

Traditionally after dinner drinks (digestivo) were consumed after meals to aid digestion. The focus was more medicinal rather than enjoyment. In earlier times amaro was the most popular Italian after dinner drink. In modern times there have been more digestivo options like grappa and limoncello. 

Digestivo are served after dessert and coffee so that they can be the last taste in your mouth. In most restaurants, the after-dinner drinks selection will be at the end of the menu. Traditionally these drinks have a high alcohol content. However, today, some restaurants offer non-alcoholic options. 

Popular Italian After Dinner Drinks


This liqueur is a classic Italian after dinner drink. It’s a popular crowd-pleaser enjoyed internationally that is made from the zest of Femminello lemons. It can be bought online or at physical liquor stores. For those with the time and patience, the liqueur can be made at home for that Limoncello typical Italian after dinner drink experience. The liqueur is best served chilled in a small glass. 


Amari is another famous Italian after dinner drink best served chilled. It infuses alcohol with herbs and spices. Amari bitters were initially created for medicinal purposes, but over time, they became popular as a digestive. Modern-day bartenders now use this Italian drink in cocktails. 

Sambuca with anise on wooden board


Sambuca is an anise-flavored digestive some people add to an espresso, known as Caffè corretto. While the main ingredient is anise, this Italian drink has other flavors, like liquorice and citrus. 

Some restaurants serve sambuca with whole coffee beans on the side or floating on the drink. The coffee beans symbolize health, happiness and prosperity. The Italians are serious about their coffee. 


Grappa is made by distilling pomace and then infusing it with grain alcohol. Grappa is usually colorless, but some variations have a color, like an ai miele, which is honey grappa and yellow in color. The best grappa comes from a single grape variety rather than mixed. 


Sardinia is one of Italy’s twenty regions and the home of Mirto. The drink is made from a compound of myrtle berries and leaves infused with alcohol. There are two varieties of Mirto; mirto rosso is made from the berries, while mirto bianco is made from leaves and is clearer in color. Mirto is traditionally served chilled or at room temperature.

In Conclusion

While it’s believed that digestivo aids digestion after a meal, there is no scientific proof of this. But it does explain why most Italian after dinner drinks are infused with herbs, spices and fruit. Digestive or not, indulging in an after dinner drink is a great way to end a meal and prolong the ambience of the evening. 

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