Flavorful schnapps for backcountry schussing
Aspen Times Weekly
They call it a “nordic libation,” an apt description since its strong taste and energizing bite seem made for quelling fatigue or laziness on a backcountry skiing trip.
I know, because I took a bota bag filled with the stuff on a recent day of ski touring, where I learned that the combined tastes of peppermint and cinnamon can be quite a helpmate when the wind is howling and the sun is fading.
The beverage in question is Ullr, described on the label as a “peppermint cinnamon schnapps liqueur.” It is put out by Hood River Distilleries in Hood River, Ore., known mostly as the home of crazed bands of windsurfers who ply the gusty currents of the Columbia River gorge. The distillery was founded in 1934 and produces a variety of beverages.
One writer has accurately described Ullr Nordic Libation as “like drinking fire” and “a mixture of Rumpleminz and Goldschlager,” referring to well-known brands of peppermint and cinnamon schnapps, in that order.
Now, according to various experts, schnapps as we know in the USA it is not at all like the lighter, fruit-based beverage that originated in Germany. Schnapps, in this country, is a much more syrupy, sweeter concoction.
Ullr, which is new this year, is a 90-proof liqueur (meaning it’s 45-percent alcohol) that retails for $27.99 and falls into the syrupy category. The “nose” is a pungent blend of the two flavorings, and in the cold it can make your eyes water even before you take a slug.
In keeping with its intended market ” winter sports enthusiasts of all stripes ” the label carries “A Prayer for Snow,” imploring the Norse god of snow, Ullr, to bless the mountains with his bounty. Ullr, according to Norse legend, is “so fierce a bowman and ski-runner that none may contend … it is wise to invoke the name Ullr in duels.” And, of course, the marketing department sent an airline bottle of Ullr, a bota bag, some stickers for a car and a lapel pin to encourage a reviewer to think good thoughts about the product.
The literature from Hood River also boasts a few recipes for blending Ullr schnapps with other liqueurs and beverages, with names like “SnowPak” and “Burnt Sacrifice.” The full recipes, which this reporter has not tried, are available online at http://www.hrdspirits.com, along with information about prizes the liqueur has garnered.
On a recent hike up Williams Peak, near Sunlight Mountain Resort southwest of Glenwood Springs, with the temperature in the low teens and a buddy chugging behind me, I stopped occasionally for a warmer-upper from the bota bag.
The short snorts of Ullr were indeed warming and refreshing, and helped power me to the peak, an elevation gain of roughly 1,300 feet over a couple of miles. Once there, another quick sip apiece emboldened both of us to plunge down the steep face of the cornice where we stood and into the deep powder below.
My ski buddy, ordinarily no fan of either peppermint or cinnamon schnapps, proclaimed this new blend to be “really good when it’s zero or below,” though the strong taste was just discouraging enough to keep us from over-imbibing, which is a good thing.
Otherwise, it might have interfered with our telemark technique and detracted from the unparalleled glory of the 3 feet of powder we were schussing.
But that, too, is another story.
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