Thursday, June 26, 2014

Sipping Snaps in Denmark

Told & Snaps Copenhagen Denmark
Snaps tasting at Told & Snaps.
You may think I spelled snaps wrong, but I didn't.  In Denmark, what we as Americans usually identify as schnapps is called snaps, also known as aqvavit.  Danish snaps are distilled liquors infused with some sort of herb or other flavoring agent.  Snaps are served straight in a small glass, usually paired with food. 

We received our first introduction to Danish snaps at Told & Snaps in Copenhagen.  If you’re looking for a snaps tasting education, Told & Snaps is the place.  Told & Snaps is one of the most popular restaurants in Copenhagen for smørrebrød, the most traditional accompaniment to snaps.  Smørrebrød are open-faced sandwiches topped with strongly flavored ingredients such as pickled herring, shrimp and eggs, roast beef, cheese, and pâté.  As snaps are also strongly flavored, smørrebrød and snaps make a good flavor team.

Smørrebrød and snaps at Told & Snaps Copenhagen Denmark
Smørrebrød and snaps make a perfect pair.
When our waiter learned we had never had Danish snaps before, he offered us a snaps tasting so we could sample multiple flavors of snaps, rather than the traditional one glass of snaps filled to the rim.  We were served two types of mass produced snaps including Aalborg Akvavit, the most common Danish snaps.  Aalborg Akvavit is clear with the flavor of caraway and has been made in Denmark since 1846.  We were also able to sample some of Told & Snaps’ house-made snaps which are infused with many different herbs and spices including dill, sea buckthorn, sweet gale, and thyme.  I found the house-made snaps to be the most enjoyable as they were so flavorful.

We tried another flavor of snaps at Kähler Spisesalon in Aarhus.  Here we tried Hr. Skov snaps.  The choices included snaps made with rosehips, sweet gale, or crowberries.  We tried the Klithyben made with rosehips grown in Jutland, which was both bitter and lightly sweet.  Here the snaps were served with our dessert of breads and cheeses.

Snaps at Kähler Spisesalon Aarhus Denmark
Tasting snaps at Kähler Spisesalon.
Our final experience with snaps was in Roskilde at the Hotel Prindsen bar.  Roskilde’s popular brewery is Herslev Bryghus, but in addition to beer, they make snaps.  Two kinds were being served at the Hotel Prindsen: Brændevin Korn, a single-estate snaps made from grain, and Brændevin Stjerneanis, a blend of two distillates with star anise.  This was the first time we tried snaps by itself, without any food.  It had seemed strong before, but it was even stronger without food.  Our bartender watched us with concern as we took our first sip.  She finally asked if we liked it or if it was too strong.  She said it was strong for her and that she only drank snaps with food.  Which is when we learned snaps is really only to be had with food.

 Herslev Bryghus Snaps Roskilde Denmark  Herslev Bryghus Snaps Roskilde Denmark

When traveling through Denmark, beer is the most readily available beverage to consume at restaurants and bars.  But don’t forget to add some snaps into the mix.

Katherine Belarmino has been traveling for over ten years on a quest to see as much of the world as possible, experience new cultures, and sample other cuisines and libations. She also writes the travel blog Travel the World, which journals her world travels with her husband Romeo and seeks to encourage others to take the time to travel.