German Schnapps Versus American Schnapps

A collection of German schnapps found at Alpine Market

German schnapps are known all over the world, but what makes them different from the ones found here in the United States?

A classic German schnapps Bauer's Obstler

If you visit a European Import store like the Alpine Market and ask for schnapps, you may find that your options are more than you expected. In Germany, Schnaps refers to any strong liquor so you’ll need to narrow down your search. The schnapps you’re probably seeking is one of the popular Obstler or fruit schnapps varieties. In Europe, fruit juices are distilled into schnapps and mostly consumed straight without mixing. The most popular fruit schnapps in Germany are pear, apple, cherry, plum, and apricot. They are often imbibed before or after meals or even between courses to cleanse the pallet and aid in digestion. Our most popular schnapps at Alpine Market and a great example of the classic German schnapps is Bauer’s Obstler, a schnapps distilled from apples and pears.

The kinds of schnapps you can buy at a regular liquor store in the US and find behind your average bar by brands like Dekuyper are not distilled directly from the fruit but rather a mixture of grain alcohol and fruit flavors. These types are the kinds that many Americans think of when they hear schnapps. Peach and peppermint are popular flavors of schnapps used to make cocktails at bars all over the country. They make good cocktail mixers but I do not recommend them as shots.

Another popular German schnapps is Kräuterlikör also known as herbal liqueur. Some brands of Kräuterlikör that you may have heard of are Jägermeister, Kuemmerling, and Killepitsch. These liqueurs are made with dozens of herbs and spices and aged usually for at least one year. They were originally used as medicine for a variety of ailments. A while back I got some great Jäger drink recipes from our bartender Todd. Be sure to check those out if that’s what you’re in the mood for. For this blog though, I went to another of our bartenders, Tina from Bulgaria, and she gave me a recipe used with peach schnapps that she likes to make. She calls it a White Gummy Bear:

Tina’s cocktail: White Gummy Bear
Into a cocktail mixer, pour:
1.5oz Absolute or Grey Goose vodka
5oz Chambord raspberry liquor
.5oz peach schnapps
splash Pineapple juice
Top with Sprite and shake.

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Showing 3 comments
  • Bert Roseberry

    Currently in a top tier hotel in Munich Germany. The bartender has never heard of peppermint schnapps. He has four or five schnapps sort of like Rumpleminsk (shudder). He has a sense of what it is because he brought over a Creme de Menthe bottle. So disappointing!!!

  • Ellen Kennedy

    We’re doing an opera set in WWI (1914). Can anyone tell me what kind of schnapps the Germans would have drunk at that time, and in what kind of bottle would be used? We’d like to be authentic.

  • Gregori

    they drank Fuhrerschnapps, which at first wants to spill out all over the place and make a mess of everything, but by the time it’s almost all gone it doesn’t want to come out of the bottle and smells like cyanide.

    it was a very dark bottle.