You remember schnapps, right? Cheap bottles of peppermint and peach flavored hooch mixed in terrible cocktails at fraternity parties -- ringing any bells yet?
But it's different in Switzerland, where artfully distilled fruit brandies are the regional tipple of choice. These unaged spirits are made from fermented fruit that get distilled once to a high proof with no artificial flavoring or sweetener added.
Swiss bar and restaurant Stable is not at all neutral about their love for schnaps. They’ve got housemade versions and cocktails on the menu, and recently started offering patio-ready popsicles and frozen schnaps. That’s right: step away from the frosé this season, because there’s a new brain freeze-inducing libation in town.
First things first: the correct spelling of these spirits--whose origins are German--is with one “p”, as in “schnaps.” The double “p” is reserved for those, um, aforementioned sweetened, godawful, artificially flavored versions that are bound to give you a wicked hangover. Silvan Kraemer, general manager and co-owner of Stable, wanted to make schnap more approachable to guests, so he decided to offer up icy versions, and the Schapsicle was born.
“The Schnapsicle is similar to a sorbet,” he explains. “The base of [them] are fruit purees that are in season enhanced with a schnaps that goes well with that particular fruit flavor.”
You can order it in a sleeve or in a wine glass topped with sparkling wine, a super popular option for day drinking during brunch. Currently, Stable has apricot schnapsicles with mirabelle (plum) schnaps, raspberry schnapsicles and a pear version mixed with Williams Pear Schnaps.
As for the appeal of this boozy treat versus the ubiquitous pink blended drink that’s on pretty much every menu from May to September, Kraemer says it all comes down to versatility. “You can create different flavors and [it’s] more fun since you can eat them like an ice-pop, or use it to make different drinks.”
So is this how the Swiss take their schnaps in the summertime while soaking up the sun on the shores of Lake Geneva? Not so much. It’s generally used as a digestif after a big meal, like after hitting the cheese fondue a little too hard. In wintertime it’s added to coffee, but in the summer, it’s consumed straight, Kraemer says.
“Every household has a bottle or two of schnaps in the freezer, and you drink it ice cold or sometimes with a beer on the side," she says.
Our advice: don’t schnap, go directly to H Street and slurp down one (or more) of these spirited slushie!