Fennel Digestif (Liqueur) – Italian Remedy For An Upset Tummy

The weather outside is frightening…. We’re having a winter storm in the Pacific Northwest and it seems a lot of the country is having the same. Rosemary on the deck is toughing it out.

We had a little warning from the weather people so neighbors have been stocking up on bread and milk in case they are housebound. Us? Hubby went to the liquor store to buy grain alcohol so I could make liqueurs. Now what do you think will keep you warmer and make you happier? Do I really have to answer?

You might want to know a bit more about fennel in case you are not too familiar with it. Click here for a previous post that covers a few interesting tidbits about this under-appreciated root vegetable and herb. In Italy, a lot of Italians serve this liqueur after dinner as a digestif. My grandmother’s favorite and she made it a lot! She called it anisette — although today I notice that anisette is made with anise seed not fennel so not sure where her recipe originated from. She said it settled her tummy. Ah huh.

I asked myself, what do you do when you have surplus fennel to use? Why you make a fennel digestif (liqueur) of course! (I almost always have the right answer.) 🙂 🙂 While I was at it, I decided to try two recipes just in case one failed. Here’s one to get you started.


Fennel Digestif
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  1. • 1/4 cup fennel fronds
  2. • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  3. • 2 cups grain alcohol, such as Everclear
  4. • 1 1/2 cups Rich Simple Syrup
Rich Simple Syrup Ingredients
  1. • 2 cups sugar
  2. • 1 cup water
  1. Combine fronds and seeds in a 1-quart glass jar with a tight fitting lid.
  2. Add alcohol, cover, and let steep, undisturbed, at room temperature, for 6 days.
  3. After 6 days, filter out fronds and seeds, and add rich simple syrup. Stir to combine. Store in the freezer.
Simple Syrup Directions
  1. Heat sugar and water in a sauce pan and cook until sugar has dissolved and liquid has thickened.
  2. Syrup can be stored in the fridge until fennel mixture is ready.
  1. I actually used 1 1/2 cups water to 1 1/2 cups sugar so it's not quite as rich as the original recipe.
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For a richer version, you might like this recipe Cream of Wild Fennel Liqueur. Taste test in our house lasted a looonnggg time because we couldn’t decide which version we liked better. We thought this version was equally good, and not particularly richer, just a different style. 

I was surprised that these liqueurs only had to sit for a few days as opposed to weeks or months as with other liqueurs. And the fact that one sat for three days and the other for six didn’t make the flavor stronger. I’ll have to do some more experimenting with these in the near future. Yep I will!


Cream of Wild Fennel Liqueur

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  • • 2 cups 190-proof Everclear or similar
  • • Whole leaves and a few stalks of wild fennel; the leaves and stalks should just be covered by the alcohol
  • • 4 cups milk
  • • 1 ? cups sugar


  1. Wash and dry the wild fennel. Place the fennel in a glass jar with a cork or tight-fitting metal lid.
  2. Cover the fennel with the alcohol and let sit for three days.
  3. Combine the milk and sugar in a pan, bring to a boil for about 5 minutes, then let cool.
  4. Filter the infused alcohol, mix with the milk-and-sugar mixture.
  5. Place in a clean bottle, store in the freezer.


Calories: 1335 cal
Carbohydrates: 264 g
Fat: 20 g
Sodium: 582 g
Cholesterol: 78 g
Protein: 35 g
Fiber: 7 g
Confession?  Well, after adding the milk to the liqueur I WAS out of milk and we DID have to go to the store. We managed to get there between snowstorms. There were only 6 bottles left in the refrigerator case of the kind of milk we buy. Whew!

Stop by for a sip sometime!

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