Krupnik, in Poland, or Krupnikas in Lithuania, is a liqueur infused with honey and herbs. I’m at least partly Lithuanian and I jumped at the opportunity to make some when I found the recipe. My Lithuanian grandfather kept bees in retirement and huge gallon jars of honey ranged the walls of his kitchen. This liqueur very much brings me back to the scents of my childhood. Now my kitchen smells like his used to, of honey, spices, and grain alcohol. Just now, coming in the front door I actually paused in the threshold to inhale the weighty aroma. It was delicious. It smelled like essence of Christmas. And I made the liqueur last night too.
Word of warning, however, this stuff is strong. Curl your pubes kind of strong. It made my apartment smell like Christmas, but lifting the lid on the pot, I was blown back by the smells of honey and booze. I recommend mixing this drink with sparking wine or ginger ale or pouring it over ice cream. Drinking it straight is overwhelming.
It’s also served warm on occasion, sometimes as a cold remedy.
10 cardamom pods
½ nutmeg seed
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
10 whole cloves
10 allspice berries
6 cinnamon sticks
1 vanilla bean, split open
2 teaspoons whole peppercorns
1 pinch saffron
Two inch piece fresh ginger, peeled
2 1-inch pieces fresh turmeric, peeled
3 strips orange zest
3 strips lemon zest
4 cups water
2 pounds raw honey
1-quart grain alcohol
1.) Place cardamom pods and nutmeg seed on a cutting board and crack them with the bottom of a heavy skillet. Split open the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds. Put cardamom, nutmeg, vanilla pod and seeds, caraway seeds, coves, allspice berries, cinnamon sticks, peppercorns, saffron, ginger, turmeric orange zest, lemon zest and water in a pot and bring to a boil.
2.) Leave liquid at a high simmer for half an hour or until it has reduced by half. Strain out the herbs and spices and reserve the liquid.
3.) Place honey in a pot and bring to a boil. Take honey off the heat and add the spiced water and grain alcohol. Strain several times through a wire mesh sieve. Heat on low just until it’s all heated through. Do not boil.
4.) Allow the pot to sit overnight. Then pour into sterilized bottles and leave for two weeks. The longer you leave it, the clearer the liquid should become.
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