Schnaps are an essential part of the crayfish party. They are drunk (in moderate amounts) whenever a toast is proposed, either for the first
unshelled crayfish tail, or in honour to the ladies of the party, etc.
It is best to serve neutral-tasting spirits with the crayfish. Never serve sweetened fruit or herb flavoured spirits or eaux-de-vie.
Instead, you may serve mildly flavoured spirits, that you can also easily prepare yourself by following the instructions below. Note that the taste of the flavouring ingredient in the schnaps should be just barely detectable.
Picture on right: a bottle of vodka flavoured with lemon balm.
Use a good-quality, neutral-tasting vodka and flavour it with the ingredient of your choice. To make several differently flavoured spirits, divide the vodka in smaller clean bottles or jars, adding a different flavouring ingredient into each of them.
Suggestions for flavouring ingredients:
etc steep only for a short time)
fresh young blackcurrant leaves (steep only for up to 4 days)
fresh birch leaf buds, picked as soon as birches first start to bud in springtime
fresh spruce or pine buds, picked early in the spring (steep only for up to 3 - 4 days)
dried juniper berries, slightly crushed
fresh horseradish, cut in chunks
fresh lemon balm leaves
fresh sage leaves (steep only for up to 5 days)
fresh crown dill twigs with flower heads *)
fresh chanterelles (Cantharellus cibarius), chopped (steep only for 1 - 2 days)
- strips of lemon peel (yellow part only, preferably use organically grown fruit)
- fresh hot pepper (jalapeño, serrano,
Clean, peel, wipe or rinse and dry the flavouring ingredient, if necessary. Place the ingredient in a suitable dish with a wide mouth, eg a glass jar fitted with a lid. Use about a handful or two of the ingredient, if the amount is not specified in the list above. Pour spirit in the jar just to cover the ingredient and close the lid tightly.
Let the flavour develop at room temperature.
Depending on the ingredient used, this may take anything from a couple of hours to several weeks, even months. For most ingredients, a week is a suitable length of time.
Picture on right: vodka schnaps flavoured with crown dill.
Note that some ingredients, like juniper berries, will absorb the spirit, so you may have to add some new spirit to the jar from time to time. Other ingredients, like crown dill, develop a stuffy or bitter taste if let to steep for too long. It is best to taste the mixture from time to time, and strain it as soon as you think it has gained enough flavour.
If necessary, dilute the flavoured spirit with unflavoured spirit, until the flavour is suitable. Pour the spirit in a presentable bottle and serve well chilled from tiny shot glasses.
*) Use 2 to 4 crown dill flower heads for 250 to 375 millilitres of spirit and steep no longer than 4 to 5 hours. A spirit flavoured with crown dill is very perishable, and should be used as soon as possible.
Recipe source: instructions and tips gained from various sources, eg Matti J. Särömaa, Helsingin Sanomat/Ruokatorstai, 1997, "Kanttarellikossu", MTV3/Aaken ja Sakun kesäkeittiö, 2000, and "Den Kryddade Snapsens Hemsida", www.lysator.liu.se/~johana/snaps/snaps.html, accessed 2005.