Saturday night just got a whole lot better. 

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I'm not a big drinker, generally. I tend to want a single well-crafted cocktail for socializing, or a glass or two of wine with dinner. On a really hot day I want a really cold beer or a fizzy G&T, and on a really cold day I want a warming brown-goods based drink like a Boulevardier. I love to pair great wines with great food any night of the week. And my husband and I have a tradition of a small glass of Champagne we share every night before we go to bed.

But if you come to my house for a dinner party? We're doing shots after the entrees.

To be clear, I don't mean Jägerbombs, and I don't mean we are suddenly going full frat party in the middle of a grown-up evening. I mean that I have adopted the tradition of the French in the Normandy region: the trou normand, or the Norman hole, and strongly recommend you do as well.

Alcohol in Glasses
Credit: Getty / StefaNikolic

What is a trou normand?

Normandy is famous for its apples, and perhaps the best expression of those apples is Calvados, an apple brandy that packs a fiery punch and a warming, mellowing after-effect, as well as serving as a digestive aid. The area is also known for hearty rustic cuisine that can land a bit heavy on the digestion. The people of the region realized that a small shot of Calvados mid-meal has the effect of settling the stomach and making it feel ready to eat more! Hence the "hole" in the name.

How I do a trou normand at my dinner parties

Dinner parties at mine tend to start with little nibbles when the guests arrive, a starter of some sort, entrée, then a salad, a cheese course if I am really going all out, and then dessert. Having a trou normand after the entrée dishes have been cleared and the rest of the courses is a lovely pause, a chance to offer another toast to your guests, and really does create renewed appetite for the rest of your meal. And the flavor does not compete with wine, so you don't have to worry about anyone's taste buds.

Some helpful tips for adding a trou normand to your next dinner 

Ready to take on this fantastic tradition? Here are some helpful tips to get started.

Which booze to use: We use Calvados, but any eau de vie, grappa, cognac, or Armagnac work well for this. Poire William is another great option. Stay away from anything sweet, too harsh, or too intensely flavored: You don't want to blow out anyone's palate.

How much to serve: Serve a scant ½-ounce per person, or a half-jigger measure, because no one needs to be schickered before pie.

Glasses to serve them in: If you really get into it, you can find elegant sets of shot glasses the size of large thimbles to serve in; I keep an eye out for them at antique and flea markets. It is just a wonderful unique tradition, and we have many friends who had their first with us, and now have adopted the habit for themselves.

Whatever the gathering, the next time you are going all-in on a lovely dinner, consider the trou normand. You might just find a mid-meal round of shots is just what you need.