Schnapps had a rather innocent and unassuming beginning when, around the 16th century, monks were studying its medicinal uses. Nowadays, this potato- or grain-based liquor is known around the world as a strong alcoholic beverage.
The original schnapps, translated from German to “a mouthful,” was first made in Germany and is still consumed there regularly, as well as in Austria, Denmark and Switzerland. Today, schnapps (which is technically considered a fruit brandy) is usually drunk neat (without ice or any other mixers) in Northern Europe.
In America, schnapps is typically used in mixed drinks. Although most Americans are familiar with the sweetened varieties of peppermint schnapps and peach schnapps, the authentic German schnapps are not sweetened with additives.
Down to Brass Tacks: How to Make Schnapps
The original German schnapps is made from distilling fermented whole fruit or fruit juices. In America, however, schnapps is more commonly distilled from fruit brandy that is then combined with sugar and artificial flavoring.
A common ritual in Denmark, which is now also becoming popular practice in America, is making homemade schnapps. To make schnapps at home, steep fruit and herbs in an alcohol base, such as Danish schnapps, vodka or pure grain alcohol. After the steeping phase, finish off the schnapps by sweetening or flavoring it as desired.
Drinking Schnapps like a Local
How you drink your schnapps often depends on where you live:
- In Germany, sidle up to the nearest man wearing lederhosen and ask for a shot of “Obstler,” the local name for schnapps.
- In the United States, chances are you”ll be dealing with a much sweeter and cruder, though no less pleasant, variety of schnapps. American schnapps resembles a liqueur and is used mostly to flavor mixed drinks.
- In Iceland, try their local variety of schnapps, called Brennivin, alongside your salted lamb.
A Slew of Schnapps Flavors and Drinks
Consult the table below for a breakdown of the different types of schnapps, along with their associated flavors and popular recipes.
|Type of Schnapps||Base Ingredients||Primary Flavors||Recipes Featuring this Schnapps|
|Apple Schnapps||distilled apples||sweet apple, with a candy-like flavor||Apple Cobbler cocktail, with Goldschlager, Irish cream and apple Schnapps
Jolly Rancher cocktail, with apple schnapps, peach schnapps and cranberry juice
sweet recipes, such as cheesecake
|Brennivin||fermented potatoes, caraway seeds||mostly flavorless with slight alcohol aftertaste||Brennivin is an Icelandic schnapps traditionally consumed neat at the Thorrabl t, a mid-winter festival in Iceland.|
|Butterscotch Schnapps||butter, brown sugar||smooth, creamy butterscotch||Buttery Nipple shooter, with Irish cream and butterscotch schnapps
Caramel Apple shooter, with butterscotch schnapps and apple schnapps
|Cinnamon Schnapps||cinnamon extract||sweet and spicy||Firebomb cocktail, with energy drink and cinnamon schnapps
Starry Night shooter, with Jaeger and cinnamon schnapps
|Peach Schnapps||peaches, artificial flavors||sugary, peachy flavors||Fuzzy Navel cocktail, with peach schnapps, orange juice and lemonade
Sex on the Beach cocktail, with peach schnapps, vodka, cranberry juice, pineapple juice and vodka
|Peppermint Schnapps||peppermint leaves, artificial flavors||minty, sweet, refreshing||Peppermint Patty shooter, with peppermint schnapps, coffee liqueur and cream
hot chocolate, coffee additive
|Root Beer Schnapps||sassafras, vanilla, artificial flavors||rich, full-bodied, sweet flavors||Root Beer Barrel cocktail, with domestic beer and root beer schnapps
Root beer float recipes
|Strawberry Schnapps||vodka, strawberries, artificial flavors||sweet, sugary strawberries||Strawberry Daiquiri cocktail, with strawberry schnapps, rum and frozen strawberries
Star Burst shooter, with strawberry schnapps and orange juice
|Vanilla Schnapps||vodka, vanilla beans||sweet vanilla||Vanilla Coke cocktail, with vanilla schnapps and cola
Dreamsicle shooter, with vanilla schnapps, milk and orange juice
Sick of reading and ready to hit the kitchen or bar with a schnapps recipe? Here are a few that will make you fall in love with schnapps for the first time or all over again.
Fuzzy Navel Recipe
- ice cubes
- 1? oz. peach schnapps
- orange juice.
- Add ice to a high ball glass, then pour in the peach schnapps.
- Top off the glass with orange juice.
Peppermint Patty Recipe
- ice cubes
- 2 oz. coffee-flavored liqueur
- 1 oz. peppermint schnapps
- splash of cream, optional.
- Add ice to a snifter or cordial glass
- Pour the coffee liqueur and the peppermint schnapps over the ice. Add a splash of cream to soften the flavor, if necessary.