We do not often review schnapps (or really any liqueurs) on Parched No More, since there are so many tasty spirits from which to partake (in addition to our wine and beer reviews). But 99 Bananas (a banana flavored schnapps), by Barton/Sazerac, is so popular these days that I thought it deserved its own article.
Before we look into this particular variety of drink, we should first what is meant by the terms liqueur and schnapps.
Liqueurs are alcoholic beverages made from a fruit, nut or berry must (this is what is left of the food after crushing but before straining; it contains all the seeds, skins and some stems in the mixture). This material is then fermented before being used in the product. Most fruits and berries contain enough sugar to allow fermentation. For those products that do not, sugar can be added at the beginnning of fermentation to aid the process. This fermented must is then strained before bottling. (Chambord, a raspberry liqueur, is a popular example).
Schnapps was originally developed in Germany, and today, there are major differences in the production of schnapps between it and the U.S.
German-made schnapps is a distilled alcohol product, made from the fermented must. The final product is usually about 40% alcohol (80 proof, about the same as a typical vodka). American schnapps, on the other hand, is made by mixing a neutral spirit (pure grain alcohol) with fruits and other flavorings, to which sugar is added. Occasionally, glycerin is used to create a more syrup-like product. American offerings have a final alcohol content of 15-50% (30-100 proof).
Banana may seem like a strange fruit from which to derive an alcoholic beverage, but the fruit adds a flavor that compliments other combinations very well.
For a shooter, try a banana split: 99 Bananas schnapps with White Creme de Cacao and half and half. For a mixed drink, consider a Green Banana: one ounce each of the banana schnapps, and Midori (melon liqueur), plus four ounces of pineapple juice. Shake with ice and strain into a rocks or old-fashoined glass. A yummy, fruity treat for the hot days of summer! If you’d like a great, sweet desert drink, try a barrel full of monkeys: 1 oz each of 99 bananas and hazelnut liqueur, half an ounce of cream de cacao and a splash each of orange juice and cream or half and half. Want a fabulous coffee drink? There’s no need to go further than the toasted banana: make that with the one and a half ounces of schnapps, one ounce of coffee liqueur, half an ounce of amaretto and a splash of cream.
Don’t overlook liqueurs and schnapps in your quest for a perfect drink. They can be used in many different ways, and if you like bananas, you’ll be crazy about 99 bananas schnapps.
Always drink responsibly and cheers!