How To Pick The Best Digestif For Holiday Dinners

Let's face it: By the end of that enormous holiday meal, sometimes all you want to do is lie down on the floor and give thanks for the invention of elastic waistbands.

That's where a trusty digestif comes in. After an evening of indulgence, sip one of these spirits, liqueurs or fortified wines to help you digest (as the name suggests) and maintain some post-meal dignity—at least until your guests go home.

The situation: The in-laws are coming to dinner, and you want to impress.
The bottle: Armagnac, such as Delord XO ($50)
The reason: This plummy French brandy is similar to Cognac, but since Armagnac tends to be less well-known, it usually offers better value. Pair it with a rustic apple tart.

The situation: You really, really, really shouldn't have had that last helping of turkey.
The bottle: Amaro, such as Amaro Montenegro ($25)
The reason: The herbs and roots that give amaro its bitter tinge were traditionally used for medicinal purposes. Today's amaro is more likely to be spotted at the bar than at the apothecary, but it still has soothing properties.

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The situation: Extra guests unexpectedly drop in and, whoops, there's not quite enough dessert to go around!
The bottle: Cream liqueur, such as Kringle Cream ($20)
The reason: A kringle is a hand-rolled Danish pastry filled with fruit, nuts and spices and topped with icing. This nutty, super rich liqueur from Wisconsin, meant to mimic the flavor of the pastry, is so satisying you won't miss dessert. Splash a little into your coffee, too.

The situation: You've been invited for dinner and don't know what to bring.
The bottle: Tawny port, such as Niepoort Tawny Port 10-Year-Old ($40)
The reason: Portugal's fortified red wine is an ideal autumnal sipper, full of gorgeous dark fruit, spice and even chocolate-like flavors. This tawny port even has a delicate touch of hazelnut, making it a versatile pairing with both sweet and savory desserts. So no matter what your host serves, you've brought the right bottle.