Schnapps: a snap to make your own

SIPS

February 26, 2003|By Sara Engram | Sara Engram,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

After a big meal, Linda List of Perry Hall likes nothing better than to settle in with a small glass of peppermint schnapps. "I couldn't tell you how it works," she says. "I just know it makes me feel better."

As the baking talent behind the sorely missed Heirloom Desserts, which closed a few years ago, List had fans all over Baltimore, and her apple pie was once named the best in the city. So she knows her way around good food, and the habit of taking a few sips of a digestif has served her well.

Digestifs are drinks that are supposed to aid the digestion, meant to be sipped after a meal. Like many beverage categories, this one has lots of room for personal quirks and preferences.

For List, not just any schnapps will do - it has to be peppermint (60 proof, not 100). But Michael McConnell, business partner of List's husband, Roy, and son of a German mother, likes fruit schnapps. He remembers watching his uncle in Germany gather fruit from his orchard to make his own schnapps - not an uncommon experience for many people in areas of Germany, Holland and other northern European places where schnapps is a favorite drink. (He says he stays away from the peppermint stuff after trying too much of it in college.)

In Germany, many people eat their biggest meal of the day at noontime, so schnapps can be an afternoon or evening drink.

You can find a variety of schnapps at most liquor stores, from peach or apple to cherry or butterscotch, but List remains partial to DeKuyper's Peppermint.

You can even make your own. It won't be completely authentic - for fruit schnapps, for instance, you'll simply be adding flavorings to an alcohol base (usually vodka) rather than actually distilling the fruit.

But it can be fun to experiment with homemade schnapps, and peppermint is an easy one to try. If you don't enjoy sipping it all by itself, you can always mix it with something else.

Do you have a favorite winter sip to chase away the aches and pains of colds and flu? Send your stories or suggestions to sips@comcast.net.

Peppermint Schnapps Liqueur

Makes 4 cups

1/3 cup granulated sugar

one 16-ounce bottle light corn syrup

2 cups 80-proof vodka

2 teaspoons peppermint extract

Combine sugar and corn syrup in a 2-quart pan over medium heat. Heat until sugar dissolves, stirring regularly (about 5 minutes).

When sugar has dissolved, add vodka and stir well. Remove mixture from heat and cover tightly with lid. Let cool. Add peppermint extract to mixture and pour into a sealable bottle.

- Todd Wilbur (www.topsecretrecipes.com)

Nordic Nightcap

Makes 1 drink

1 1/2 parts peppermint schnapps

1 part club soda

Pour schnapps over ice in highball glass. Add club soda to fill.

- DeKuyper Cordials and Liqueurs

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