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24 Oct 2021 | Thomas Oliver


The Schonaur Apfel Schnapps has reentered our store this fall, and so have fall flavors! This sweet apple liquor brings bright red apple flavor to drinks. I have just picked up a bottle myself, so I thought I would share some fun cocktails I have been messing around with.

Apfelkorn, a mix of grain alcohol and apple juice was popularized among German university students in the 1970’s, soon it was introduced as a premix for parties and became the popular schnapps we know today. Schonauer Brewery is located close to the prime apple regions of Germany and was one of the first to sell on the international market.

I was astounded by the clarity of the red apple flavor, the low ABV, and the minerality that restrains the inherent sweetness. That is why I wanted to have it behind my home bar. Here are some drinks I have made through experimentation.

1. The Mule’s Apple

Apples and Ginger are a natural flavor pairing to me. For this delightful fall mule, I add a ½ oz Cocchi Americano, Apfel, and Gin before filling the rest of the glass with Fever-Tree Ginger Beer. Garnish with a lemon wedge and mint. The flavors of ginger and apple come in waves, bright red apple cut by spicy ginger with the body of the Cocchi Americano coming through at the end to provide us with a round lemon brightness.

          I am sure you could do some version of this mule without the Cocchi Americano, but I like the body and citrus that it provides. A simple mule of just Apfel and vodka would also be bright and delicious.

2. Italian Fall

The inspiration for this drink comes from the apple and mango notes of Amaro Nonino. The Italian digestif is something I have been playing around with lately and this riff on a Little Italy is a fun way to use both. For this drink, I measure a ½ oz Apfel, ½ Amaro Nonino, 3 oz Rye Whiskey, ½ oz simple syrup, and a ½ oz lemon juice.  Garnish 3 cherries or a cinnamon stick (if you would like to be more seasonal).  The drink starts with a bright pop of red apple, followed by the curious layers of herbal bitters, and resolves on the spice of the rye. If you would like a sweeter drink, I would also recommend a whiskey with strong notes of caramel and butterscotch. I made this drink with my bottle of Basil Hayden’s Toasted Barrel and, though a bit sweeter, I found the added layer of caramel to provide an interesting mid-palate note that improves the overall drink.

  1. Apple Blossom Martini

Let me preface this cocktail by saying that it does require a few ingredients. I happened to have rose-infused gin* on hand. But the alternative I suggest instead of rose is elderflower.

 For this cocktail add ½ oz Apfel, ½ oz rose infused gin/elderflower liqueur, 2 oz gin, 3/4 oz simple syrup, ½ oz lemon juice. Serve up and garnish with mint leaves. The floral notes open this cocktail with a light kiss before the red apple makes its presence known and the spice of the gin rears its head to close out the drink.

 In this cocktail, I used Woody Creek Gin for its palette of baking spices. As a side-effect, the drink came out a beautiful light indigo.  However, if you do not have woody creek gin, I would try it with a London dry gin or your gin of choice. I think that the format is ripe for gin exploration. Add a more citrus-forward gin to pop the red apple flavor more and subdue the elderflower flavor, or go with a classic London dry to complement the green note of apple.

  1. Apples and Oranges Buttered Rum

For a hot option, I chose to explore the traditional buttered rum. I brown a cinnamon stick, ½ tsp ground clove (whole is ideal), and ¼ inch ginger sliced in 1.5 tablespoons unsalted butter. After the spices were sufficiently aromatic and the butter started to turn brown, I deglaze my saucepan with 1 oz Grand Marnier, before adding 4 ½ oz rum, 1/5 oz demerara syrup (you may use brown sugar for a similar molasses taste), 2 oz Apfel schnapps, and a ½ oz lemon juice.

Spices Browning

 I let mine infuse on low for a half-hour but longer will bring out more flavor from the spices. If it gets a little bit strong for your taste, I would perhaps dilute the strong flavors with a bit of water. The Grand Marnier deglazes the pan and leaves a deep candied orange tang which the sweetness of the apple does well to tame. The butter provides body and space for the baking spices and citrus to elongate across the tongue. It tastes like a bright, warming apple cider. With this recipe, I would be careful with the lemon juice, as the tart candied orange flavor of the Grand Marnier may be stronger than one anticipates. Just adjust the demerara if yours comes out a little bit tart or if you would like a little bit more sweetness. If you feel confident, investigate other baking spices to add, like nutmeg or cardamom.

5. The Orchard

I picked up a bottle of Grappa last week for experimentation and it is already almost half-way gone! I picked up a bottle of vecchia and was overcome with a sweet, piney, smooth spirit. Honestly, it is a bit sharp for me to drink straight, but I have found myself enjoying it in cocktails.

Here is what I came up with: 

I pour 3 oz young (vecchia) grappa, 1 oz Apfel, 1/2 oz Coucco Americano (a dry vermouth would be fine as well) 1/2 oz Apricot brandy, 1/2 oz simple syrup and a 1/2 oz lemon juice into a shaker with ice. Shake, strain and enjoy. Garnish with a lemon peel.

The nose of pine softens as you smell the apple and the apricot. Your first sip transports you to the alps yet it melts into the sharp tartness of apricot followed by the gentle warmth of red apple. It finishes crisp and leaves you refreshed and wanting more. I have topped this drink with basil bitters from the Elemental Spirits Bitters Sampler pack before and it brings out some of the herbal notes of the grappa and makes it a more savory drink. I would definitely try that if you have the bitters.

In this article, I have tried to detail my experiments with Apfel schnapps. The bright, red apple flavor, the low ABV, and the restrained sweetness secures its place behind my bar. Perhaps add it to a Hot Toddy, a Sazerac, or add it to a sour. With great spirits, the limit truly is your imagination.

* I used the remains of a bottle of Jin Jiji Indian Gin for infusion, I thought the subtle cinnamon would pair nicely with the savory aspect of rose.  I used 1.5 tablespoons of dried rosebuds per a cup (if you have fresh rosebuds you will have to use more as if you were using a fresh herb instead of dry). I infused mine for three days but taste yours at 2; mine is a little bit strong and I have had to moderate it in my drinks.




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