In Germany, schnapps is considered a perfect drink for a fine bunch. This drink is respected in Germany just like vodka in Russia or cognac in France. The technology behind making this drink is very close to that of moonshine, but there are a few important differences. Let’s go over the ways of drinking and making different types of schnapps at home.
Schnapps is a common name used for a group of strong liquors (38-40 degrees) obtained by double distilling fruit or grain wash without sugar or artificial yeast (baker’s or distiller’s), as well as other ingredients. It tastes like a fruit or grain moonshine but has a more pronounced flavor.
Usually, this German treasure is made from cherry, peach, plum, apple, pear, raspberry, wheat with herbs, and even potato. Wild-growing fruits are preferred since they add a delicious flavor and distinctive fragrance. There are about 30 types of schnapps depending on the raw material used.
Brief History of Schnapps
Historians say that schnapps was first made in the XV centuries on the territory of contemporary Germany and Austria. Major distilleries were not in prospect until the late XVI and early XVII centuries. At first, the drink was used as a rejuvenator and remedy from all illnesses. Over time people realized that this alcoholic drink could make you dizzy just like any other booze and that it actually can be drunk for recreation. After that, local distilleries, as well as private household, started distilling this moonshine using everything in their disposal.
Although schnapps is considered to be a national German alcoholic drink, the center of production is located in Tyrol—an Austrian state in the Western Alps. Germany is actively marketing and popularizing their drink all over the world, and that is exactly the reason why most tourists liken this drink to Germany. Germans are mass-producing schnapps, and their intentions are so serious that there’s a special academy that is concerned with studying recipes for this drink located in Oberkirch.
Schladerer—one of the most famous brands of schnapps
Aside from the traditional schnapps, there is also a so-called “American schnapps” that has 20-25-proof, which is produced in Northern America. Actually, this schnapps is a liqueur produced with schnapps at its core. It has nothing to do with the classic German or Austrian drink.
How to Drink Schnapps
Schnapps is drunk from usual shot glasses in small doses, 20-30 ml. In order to sense the fragrance of the initial raw material, fruit (cherry, peach, pear, etc.) schnapps is served chilled to 16-20°C. First, you should slowly inhale the alcoholic fumes and only then toss off the drink.
Grain variety of this drink doesn’t have any special fragrance is drunk only extra chilled. Sliced fruits, Bavarian sausages, and herring are all great chasers for this moonshine.
Another nice way of drinking schnapps is to put in a snifter a piece of fruit, from which it is made, and then top it off with the drink itself. Retrieve the fruit before drinking. Drink and chase it with the piece of fruit that you removed from the snifter.
In Hamburg or Hannover schnapps is chased with white unfiltered beer. Sure enough, this combination causes quick intoxication. If this alcohol is too strong for you it’s recommended to water it down with still water or fruit juice.
Homemade Schnapps Recipe
We’ll be making an apricot schnapps following the method used to make German moonshine from fruits without adding yeast or sugar.
- Unwashed ripe apricots – 10 kilos
- Water – 8-10 liters
Remove the seeds and mash the apricots till homogenous. Rinsing the apricots will remove wild yeast on their surface required for fermentation. Put the apricot paste in a fermentation vessel, add 3 liters of water and stir. Tie the neck of the fermentation vessel with cheesecloth and leave it in a warm dark place for 3-4 days at 18-28°C.
Once it starts fermenting (foaming and smelling of wash), add 5-7 liters of water and thoroughly stir. The exact amount of water depends on the sugar content of the apricots used. Your goal should be obtaining liquid wash.
Install an airlock and move the fermentation vessel to a place with a temperature of 18-28°C. Since you’ve added no yeast fermentation will take a relatively long time—from 20 to 45 days. After it has stopped (the airlock hasn’t been bubbling for a few days, the wash is bitter, and there’s a layer of sediment at the bottom), decant the apricot wash into a distillation still. Distill and stop collecting the product when the alcohol content drops below 30%.
Determine the potency of the obtained distillate. To do this, calculate the volume of pure alcohol. Dilute the moonshine with water to 20% and carry out second distillation. Gather the first 10-12% of the pure alcohol separately. This harmful fraction is called “heads” and can only be used for technical purposes due to the high content of harmful substances.
Collect the middle run (“ hearts”) until its ABV drops below 45%.
Water down the obtained apricot moonshine to 40-45% ABV. Bottle and seal it. Leave the beverage in a cold dark place for 3-5 days to let the taste stabilize.
Mint Schnapps Recipe
This recipe involved infusion and two distillations.
- Cloves – 12 cloves
- Mint – 25-30 leaves
- Dry wormwood – 1 cup
- Dill seeds – 6 grams
- Anise – 8 grams
- Ethanol 96% – 500 ml
Put all of the ingredients in a jar and top them off with ethanol. Seal the cap and move the jar to a dark place with room temperature for 30 days. Shake it once every 5 days. Strain the contents through cheesecloth afterwards.
Water down the infusion to 20% and double distill it. Don’t collect the heads because you’ve used pure ethanol. Finish collecting the main product after its ABV drops below 45%.
The obtained drink will have a mint fragrance and slightly bitter aftertaste.