When you don’t know what a liquor is, first ask yourself:
“What is written on the bottle?”
This little green bottle reads…
Underberg: After a good meal
“Underberg is an herb bitters taken for digestion, it is not a beverage. Not to be supped, but taken all at once and quickly because of its aromatic and strong taste. It is also used as a flavoring.”
.67 fluid oz
Natural Herb Bitters
Ingredients: Water, alcohol (44% by volume) and natural flavors from the genus gentiana.
To feel bright and alert
Made in Germany
What does it all mean? Well, let me tell you a bit about all that jargon and glory. Hubert Underberg-Albrecht in 1846, began selling this bitter made of what they claim to be herbs and spices from 43 countries. The genus gentiana, or gentian, contains over 400 different alpine flowering plants, so, it can’t be too hard to span 43 countries. And another fun bit about it, the extracts used to create these bitters are aged in Slovenian oak. I’m no arborist, but from what little I’ve read of Slovenia, it seem that it is certainly inhabited by gnomes and fairies. The country in 54% forest.
Why bitters after a heavy meal? No idea, sorry to sound like Dr. Spaceman but science doesn’t really know either. I have read a theory that suggests that bitter or/and high fiber foods have left the modern palate and caused digestive issues with modern people. I question the booze aspect of that because were I able, I’d have a Calvados after every meal, alas I am poor. Perhaps it is simpler, like the function of the pyloric valve that is closed during digestion and allows booze to just hang out in your stomach and that booze actually aids in digestion. I’m sure the answer is simple but hasn’t really been pursued because the fix for a full tummy being a nip of tasty booze isn’t something worth questioning. I will say that I cannot imagine sitting down to a plate of Panang Curry with out an Underberg to follow. As for bitter woods, I know it is not uncommon in the Caribbean to soak water in a bowl made of cinchona wood for medicine, though I prefer my Campari straight. Underberg beats Campari in the hangover department, take a shot of Underberg in the AM after a rager, an you’ll be ready to do it all over again.
I know we are talking about Underberg here, but I often joke of Fernet Branca, a much stronger bitters, hosting a five-course meal followed by a 5k run. In between food and the dash, a shot of Fernet will make you light as air.
I offer you both Hamlet and Underberg’s marketing tag to further explain these mysteries of bitters, digestion and Underberg:
“And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
“Underberg, it cannot be explained… it must be experienced.”
Want to experience it for yourself? You can buy Underberg on Amazon.
Don’t forget the handy Underberg Belt!