My Mother-in-Law has developed an obsession with Rick Steves’ anything – televisions shows, guidebooks, Web site, tours, etc. I’m not quite sure it is necessarily a healthy obsession, but the online library of his videos over at Hulu did help us plan our recent trip to Germany and Austria. Without Rick Steves, I would have never stumbled into Sporer. Sporer has been producing and selling homemade schnapps since 1903.
I know what you’re thinking as I had the same exact thoughts. A store dedicated to schnapps? That overly sweet liquor that’s served in shot glasses at wedding money dances. That it’s supposed to taste like some sort of fruit but instead is so thick and syrupy and over sugared that I wouldn’t even put the shit on my pancakes. That headache inducing libation that we used to have older cousins buy us in high school so we could pretend like we were cool and drank alcohol but now look back and are embarrassed at our ill-defined tastes. Yeah, that schnapps. Only it’s not that schnapps. My eyes were opened to the fact that Dekuyper and Barton are not a sampling of what real schnapps is. Once again, something good has been bastardized and cheapened for the dull American palette.
Real schnapps is light and mellow with slight hints of fruit and sweetness that just poke through to say, “Hi! I’m here. I’ll just be hanging out. Don’t need to be the center of attention.” The schnapps we tasted can easily stand alone as a sipper on the rocks or in a brandy glass. It doesn’t need to be combined with other liquors or mixers, but would probably go better than DeKuyper. I hate appletinis for the fact that the schnapps traditionally used creates a syrupy, sugary mess. But an appletini mixed with Sporer’s apple schnapps is something I would really enjoy (pinky out of course).
Our first round was apricot. She had the sweet and I had the strong. This is when my eyes were opened to what schnapps were supposed to be – more of a sweet liquor for the refined palette. College girls would not go for this stuff. I did prefer the fruit brandy better though. I like something with a little more kick. It reminded me of a smooth grappa with an apricot backbone. Our second round was pear schnapps for her and elderberry for me. The bartender picked out elderberry because he said it was the least sweet of the bunch. He was right, but I still preferred the brandy. Now the pear schnapps? It was a perfect balance of pear, sugar, and alcohol. Our third round (we dug this place) was cherry brandy for her and a house blended liquor for more. The cherry was not as balanced as the apricot brandy. The cherry was barely noticeable over the alcohol flavor. The house was their own secret concoction of herbs and spices. It drank very much like jagermeister in flavor but tasted fresher. The texture was also much thinner. It was perfect for a digestif. I bought a bottle as a souvenir, along with two other bottles to consume in our hotel room. We’ll call those round four – pear brandy and elderflower schnapps. You just can’t go wrong with anything pear from Sporer. It’s their native fruit. The pear came through just as smooth as the apricot. The elderflower schnapps had a nice floral flavor balanced out with a sweet finish. It was very unique.