"Skål", as the Danes say. The host lifts his small glass, which is frosty from the ice-cold temperature of the aquavit. He looks at each guest and says, "Welcome."
This is a ritual familiar to all Danes, and it demonstrates the role that aquavit plays in this ancient culture.
But it's an essential elements when Danes come together to have a good time - with family and friends, or colleagues at work. Shaps is always on the table at Christmas lunch, at Easter or Whit Sunday but also many other occasions you will see Danes driking Snaps.
Aquavit stems from the Latin words, aqua vitæ, or "water of life". A fitting name, since this clear, chilly liquid with its fiery alcohol content brings colour to the cheeks, dissolves inhibitions and lubricates the tongue. It's a social icebreaker that opens up the joviality when people meet.
Aquavit is made in Aalborg, and has been by Danish Distillers since 1881.
Their Danish name, De Danske Spritfabrikker, is synonymous with snaps, bitters and other quality spirits. Among the best known brands are Red Aalborg, Brøndum and Harald Jensen, but Danish Distillers produces 16 variants of aquavit, each with its own characteristics.
With their common potency and full-bodied flavour, it's no wonder they're marketed under the motto: "For adults only!"
...that aquavit must be seasoned with cumin before it can be called aquavit?
...that 32% of all spirits sold in Denmark fall under the broad designation aquavit?
...that Danish Distillers in Aalborg was established in 1881? At the time, there were about 2.500 snaps distilleries in Denmark.
...that Danish aquavit is exported to about 140 countries?
...that Brøndum and Harald Jensen originally came from two independent companies, which were later acquired by Danish Distillers?
...that herbal aquavit was important medicine during the Middle Ages?