Schnapps (// or //) or schnaps is a type of alcoholic beverage that may take several forms, including distilled fruit brandies, herbal liqueurs, infusions, and "flavored liqueurs" made by adding fruit syrups, spices, or artificial flavorings to neutral grain spirits.
The English loanword "schnapps" is derived from the colloquial German word Schnaps [ʃnaps] (listen) (plural: Schnäpse) which is used in reference to spirit drinks. The word Schnaps stems from Low German language and is related to the German term "schnappen", which refers to the fact that the spirit or liquor drink is usually consumed in a quick slug from a small glass (i.e., a shot glass). In British English, a corresponding term is "dram" [of liquor].
In Austria, Switzerland, southern Germany, and the French region of Alsace, a type of schnapps called Obstler or Obstbrand (from the German Obst, fruit) is very popular. Obstler, which are fruit brandies, are mainly associated with the southern part of the German-language area. In northern Germany, almost all traditional distilled beverages are grain-based.
The main kinds of fruit used for German schnapps are apples, pears, plums, cherries, and apricots. Fruits other than these five are rarely used. Apples are used along with pears to make Obstwasser (fruit water); pears are used to produce Poire Williams (Williamsbirne, William's pear); several types of plums make Zwetschgenwasser (plum water); cherries make Kirschwasser (cherry water); and apricots are used to make Austrian Marillenschnaps (apricot brandy).
Many liqueurs referred to as schnapps, but distinct from Obstler, are created by addition of herbal or fruit flavors to a neutral spirit by various methods. The neutral spirit used can vary by location and tradition.
An inexpensive heavily sweetened form of liqueur is made in America by mixing neutral grain spirit with fruit syrup, spices, or other flavors. Referred to as "schnapps", these are bottled with an alcohol content typically between 15% and 20% ABV (30–40 proof), though some may be much higher.
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