What Is Schnnapps

You know when someone is drinking a Schnapp they get a lot of crap for taking it lightly. Gas stations even sell them in six pack form so you know you need a few to feel a buzz. However, that’s just the American version of Schnapps.

The first question usually asked about Schnapps is how do you even recognize it when it can easily be camouflaged as completely different drinks? The truth is it’s a bit hard to spot it, but that’s what we’re here for.


The English loanword "schnnapps" or “schnaps” (both are correct) is derived from the colloquial German word Schnnaps, which refers to any kind of strong alcoholic drink.

It’s used interchangeably in the same way eau de vie (water of life) is used in French, aguardiente (burning water) in Spanish, or aguardente Portuguese.

As previously mentioned there are a lot of different variations of Schnapps. It truly just depends on what you use to distill. Here are some of the more popular forms it can take: distilled fruit brandies, herbal liqueurs, infusions, and "flavored liqueurs" which are made by adding fruit syrups, spices, or artificial flavorings to neutral grain spirits.

A Brief History:

Schnnaps is most popular in Germany, where it originated for medicinal uses. Austria, Denmark, and Switzerland are also big on the Schnnaps.

European drinkers rarely mix their schnnaps into cocktails, opting instead to enjoy it straight out of the bottle and often before or after a meal. It must be of at least 32% ABV (64 proof).

However, in North America schnapps is used to describe a category of liqueurs that have often been on the lower end of the quality spectrum. There are exceptions and good schnapps can be found at a higher price.

These spirits are often drier than their sweet liqueur counterparts. The alcohol content of these schnapps can range from between 15% to 25% ABV (30 to 50 proof) depending on the brand. This is significantly lower than the German definition of Schnnaps.

European vs. American Schnapps

The European Schnnapps is colorless, clear, and offers a light, fruity flavor, much like lightly flavoured vodka. This version is created by using fermented fruit in the distillation process. And, when it is bottled, no sugar is added. To further define the beverage, its name can also mean a number of other German-made, distilled spirits, including Jagermeister, Steinhager, Kummel, and Korn. When creating German Schnnapps, fruits such as cherries, plums, pears, and apples are most often used to give it a sweetness (since there won’t be any added sugar).

When American Schnnapps are produced, a neutral grain spirit is often mixed with fruit flavors or other types of flavoring agents. When the mixture is bottled, sugar, and often glycerine, are added in order to produce a smooth drink with a syrup-like consistency. The flavors of American Schnnapps are vast, and include apricot, black currant, banana, aniseed, blackberry, cherry, peach, peppermint, butterscotch, coffee, sour apple, coffee, menthol mint, and root beer. It is because of American Schnnapps’ added sugar content that the drink is often labeled as a liqueur.

As always, I hope this article helped you learn more about something different that you can use for your next get together. Now that you have a better idea of the two main types of Schnapps, go try them out for yourself and let us know which one’s your favorite. Thanks for reading and as always…

Cheers from,

Happy Hour City

Happy Hour City