AskDefine | Define schnapps

Dictionary Definition

schnapps n : any of various strong liquors especially a Dutch spirit distilled from potatoes [syn: schnaps]

User Contributed Dictionary



(US) IPA: /ʃnɑps/ or /ʃnæps/


  1. A type of distilled alcoholic beverage, often with a fruit or peppermint flavoring.


Extensive Definition

Schnapps is a type of distilled beverage. The word schnapps is derived from the German word Schnaps (plural, Schnäpse), which can refer to any strong alcoholic drink but particularly those containing at least 32% ABV (64 proof).
There are two different types of schnapps: German Schnapps (both a generic term for liquor, and specifically German fruit brandy), and American Schnapps (sweet liqueur, often fruit-flavored).
Both the German and the English word are pronouncedSchnaps. Note that German spelling requires that Schnaps is always spelled with an upper-case "S."

German schnapps

The first one is the traditional German kind. In Germany itself, as well as in Austria and the German-speaking part of Switzerland, the spelling schnapps is virtually unknown and Schnaps, as a purely colloquial term, can refer to any kind of unsweetened distilled beverage. However, it is less often used for types of distilled beverages having their origin outside the German-speaking world. In Scandinavia the same term is used, but with the spelling snaps. The formal German counterpart to the colloquial term Schnaps is Branntwein, similar to the Scandinavian term brännvin.
Outside of the German-speaking countries and Scandinavia, "German schnapps" refers to fruit brandy of German origin, or more generally many usually clear alcoholic beverages distilled from fermented cereals, roots or fruits, including cherries, apples, pears, peaches, plums and apricots. Often, the base material for making schnapps is the pulp that is a by-product in juice production. True schnapps has no sugar or flavoring added.
Traditional German schnapps is similar in flavor and consistency to vodka, with light fruit flavors, depending on the base material. The alcohol content of these distilled beverages is usually around 40% by volume, or 80 proof. This type of traditional schnapps is, in fact, German eau de vie, but that French term is rarely and only informally used for German fruit brandy. In German these distilled beverages are called Obstler, derived from Obst, the German word for fruit. However, the term Obstler is also the name of a specific type of fruit brandy, distilled from a mixture of apples and pears. The more general definition of traditional German schnapps also includes other distilled beverages of German origin, such as Steinhäger (which, although a German gin, is often merchandised in the English-speaking world as German Schnapps) or Korn. The alcohol content of some of these other types of German schnapps is sometimes lower, since, for instance, the alcohol content of Steinhäger is usually around 38% by volume (76 proof), and Korn generally has between 32% and 38% ABV (64 to 76 proof).

American schnapps

The second type of schnapps is of American origin. These distilled beverages are liqueurs, such as peach, peppermint, or butterscotch schnapps. They can be the result of differing processes that do not involve direct fermentation. Some of these use an alcohol, such as schnapps, vodka or rum, to extract flavors out of fruit. Other ingredients are often added, most commonly sugar. The alcohol level of these schnapps may be only half that of the German type, usually around 20% by volume, or 40 proof.


schnapps in German: Schnaps
schnapps in Danish: Snaps
schnapps in French: Schnaps
schnapps in Hebrew: שנאפס
schnapps in Russian: Шнапс
schnapps in Simple English: Schnapps
schnapps in Ukrainian: Шнапс

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

John Barleycorn, alcohol, alcoholic beverage, alcoholic drink, aqua vitae, ardent spirits, beverage, booze, brew, drink, grog, hard liquor, inebriant, intoxicant, intoxicating liquor, liquor, little brown jug, potable, potation, punch bowl, rum, social lubricant, spirits, strong drink, strong waters, the Demon Rum, the bottle, the cup, the flowing bowl, the luscious liquor, the ruddy cup, toxicant, water of life
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