So I'm in Germany visiting this girl I know. She takes me over to her parents' house where they feed me a German dinner. Needless to say, it was filling. Some sort of dumpling dish with lots of meat. She speaks broken English and neither of her parents speak any English at all. I speak no German. So it's an afternoon of her translating back and forth between me and her parents.

After dinner, her dad asks if I'd like some schnapps. I say, "Sure." I'm thinking of that sweet stuff we drink in America with a beer chaser.

They go down to the basement and bring up this huge bottle of unlabeled clear liquor. There are two things I do not know until later. One, what they call schnapps is what we would call white lightning or moonshine. Two, when the bottle is opened, it is customary to finish it.

So, a couple of hours later, her dad and I are sitting on the kitchen floor, leaning up against the refrigerator, and we no longer need a translator. "Aaargh." "Ummph." "Blaarf." "Spoooge." And, at the time, we were both communicating quite nicely, thank you.

The horror of the hangover the next day made me realize that one should know the customs before agreeing to participate in local rituals. (Be careful of what they call rum in Jamaica, too.)

Whatever Webster might say, Schnapps is spelled Schnaps in Germany.

Schnaps - in Germany - is a generic term for mostly clear, high-proof alcoholic drinks. Most of the classical kinds of Schnaps are distilled from berries and certain fruit (i.e. cherries).
Schnaps is predominantly found in the south of Germany and in Austria. The french equivalent to Schnaps is eau de vie. Similar drinks exist in former Yugoslavia, Poland and the Czech Republic. Schnapsdrossel is a slang term for an alcoholic.

Schnapps (?), n. [G., a dram of spirits.]

Holland gin.

[U.S.]

 

© Webster 1913.

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