November 3, 2012
In Austria, Switzerland and Germany, eaux de vie or schnapps are usually drunk after the meal as a kind of digestive. They are also a way of extending an enjoyable evening. They're usually served in small stemmed glasses. (Hans Reisetbauer, in fact, has worked with the Austrian glass factory Spiegelau to design a special eau de vie glass called the Quinta Essentia Glass.) The pour should be quite small, no more than about 11/2 tablespoons. If you don't have a proper eau de vie or grappa glass, a sherry glass will do just fine.
Eau de vie is also sometimes paired with dessert. At the moment, says Reisetbauer, it's become somewhat fashionable in Austria for sommeliers to offer a small glass of eau de vie before the meal. "We have no culture in Austria for cocktails," he explains. "People usually drink a beer before their meal. But after beer, you are full."
You can taste eight eaux de vie from Reisetbauer by the glass at the Schnapps Bar at BierBeisl, the Austrian restaurant in Beverly Hills. Chef and owner Bernhard Mairinger will also pair them with dishes. He likes to pour the Williams pear with his pan-seared venison loin marinated in juniper, rosemary and thyme and served with roasted pear and braised red cabbage. Another pairing he loves is plum eau de vie with his kaiserschmarren and plum compote.
BierBeisl, 9669 Little Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills; (310) 271-7274, http://www.bierbeisl-la.com. Schnapps, $7 to $18 per 1/3-ounce taste. Reisetbauer products, which are available online, should soon be showing up in local wine shops too, at $40 to $170 per bottle.