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Schnapps - a heavenly treat

Zwei schöne Schnapsflaschen
For a start: the typical measure is two centilitres - in Bavaria called a "Stamperl" (a shot glass). If need be it can also be served as a double - that is 4 cl (centilitres). The glasses are calibrated for this amount, in northern Germany as well as in the south. But the content of the glasses differs quite considerably, also from the eastern part of Germany to the west.

Should you drink on the North Sea coast an Enzian (schnapps made in the Alps) with plaice? Enzian is much more fitting with a hearty snack in the south. Just as a Kirschwasser (cherry schnapps) is served with ham in the Black Forest and in Berlin a Doppelkorn (corn schnapps) with knuckle of pork, sauerkraut and mashed peas.

Just as with food, the preference for high-proof spirits depends on the region. In general schnapps means a clear liquid. But in the northern and eastern part of the country grain is mostly distilled, whereas in the south fruits from the orchards of the Rhine valley and the Lake Constance area are distilled to obtain fruit-flavoured spirits and the berries from the Black Forest are used to create fine, scented spirits.

This also inspires the mind. Oberkirch, the centre of German fruit spirit distilleries, where almost 900 small and tiny distilleries are located, houses a schnapps academy. Graduates from this academy are issued a "Wässerli-Diplom" (Schnapps Diploma).

Schnapps is the generic term for all spirits that warm you up and make you feel good. No matter whether they are clear or coloured, bitter or sweet. A schnapps is always appropriate - as an aperitif, an after-dinner drink or simply when you feel like it. Especially in the north people love to drink it together with a beer. It is called "Lüttje Lage" (little round) in Hannover and "Lütt un Lütt" (small and small) in Hamburg. Monks discovered that alcohol has medicinal properties. German physicians and chemists cultivated the idea with dedication. Their formulas are still bottled today, from Ettal monastery in Bavaria to the Harz region and on to Rostock.

Because this kind of liqueur or bitters made from hundreds of healthy herbs lifts your spirit before you eat and also rounds off a perfect meal.