Krupnik

So when did this blog become all about Star Wars and alcohol?  I guess you just get stuck on an idea and it has to run its course…

As Christmas looms large on the horizon, I thought I’d take a moment to talk about krupnik (kroop-nick).  Krupnik is a traditional Polish and Lithuanian drink served at the feast held on Christmas Eve.  It has been served at least since the 16th century and is believed to have been created by Benedictine monks.  Because some recipes contain a very high alcohol content, I’m guessing that is why it has the nickname “fire vodka.”

There is no set recipe and, in fact, ingredients can very widely from one recipe to the next.  I spent some time going through various recipes online and looking at mass produced versions of the stuff.  After this analysis a few things become clear.

1.  All use vodka for the alcohol, ranging from 40% (80 proof) up to 80% (160 proof – ka-pow!).

2.  All use honey to make them very sweet.  Clover honey is usually preferred.

3.  All other ingredients are your typical fall flavors.  Things that you would expect to taste in pumpkin pie or apple cider.

Attached you will find a spreadsheet where I compared what I thought would be the five best recipes. The sixth shown in bold is my test amalgamation which I’ll reprint below.

Krupnik Test Recipe

1.5 cups honey
4 cups water
4 cinnamon sticks
3” vanilla bean, crushed
¼ nutmeg, grated
4 cloves
10 peppercorns, ground (optional)
1 lemon peel (no pith)
2 cups vodka
Combine all except vodka and bring to boil
Simmer 5-10 min
Let stand 30 min
Strain through cheesecloth
Bring to boil again
Pour in heated pitcher with cover
Add vodka and stir

We tried this recipe when my brother was in town and it was unanimous – this is not the best drink.  It was incredibly (undrinkably) sweet without the vodka.  We added some vodka and it really cut the sweetness but it was still too sweet for any of us.  Adding more vodka than we did would have just hurt the overall flavor.  I can see why this would be made with a really strong vodka.  We just used 80 proof.

Apparently this drink can be served room temp or cold, but I would think that would be gross.  I don’t know what I’d do to try and fix this recipe.  Overall, it was really expensive having to get “fresh” whole spices and I wouldn’t recommend it.

There are two redeeming things I can think of for this drink experiment.  If you substituted the honey, water and vodka with apple cider (maybe watered down a little), you have a nice grouping of added flavors for that hot drink.  My brother recommended serving the krupnik hot in a shot glass.  I could see how it might be enjoyable that way.  Just a quick warm blast of sweet with a really pleasant aroma.

In summary, I think there are better ways to spend your time, money and stomach space than krupnik.

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3 thoughts on “Krupnik

  1. Jason,

    You might also consider cutting it about 5:1 with soda water. Granted, its difficult to serve warm that way, but it would cut a lot of the sweetness. (That’s about the ratio used to make any ‘cola/soda/pop/coke’.) Sounds like a syrup, to me…

    And for fresh whole spices, go to a local Whole Foods, health food store, etc. They sell whole spices in bulk, which means you only have to buy what you need…

    And finally, I cannot recommend strongly enough, if you don’t have one, to buy yourself a “microplane.” Great for zesting, but ESPECIALLY great for nutmeg. That is one whole spice I keep around ALL the time (and it practically never goes bad.) You won’t regret it.

  2. your right brown sugar but instead of vanilla try and find whipped cream vodka by pinnacle 1 cup makes it Apple pie ala mode then put it in a crock pot on low simmer . Everclear or Golden Grain or 180 Proof Vodka – all work well – just use .

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