Last year while exploring Russian cuisine during my “52 Cuisines in 52 Weeks” adventure I made some honey vodka, called Krupnikas–a fixture of the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in particular. I photographed it, sampled it, wrote about it and then put it away and forgot about it.
But this week Himself and I rediscovered it, tucked away behind several dusty bottles in a corner of the dining room. In the intervening year and a half it has continued to mature, its components steeping and changing in character and richness.
Essentially, what happened was that the cinnamon sticks and cloves disintegrated in the vodka mixture. But that’s not all that happened. While the krupnikas was sweet and lightly spiced on the fine summer day when I made it, now it is rich and robustly spiced and perfect for this chilly winter evening.
Himself is planning to explore krupnikas in an upcoming cocktail blog post, so I won’t steal any more of his thunder on this topic–except to share with you the recipe.
Krupnikas (Honey Vodka)
from Russian Regional Recipes, by Susan Ward
1 vanilla bean
1 large pinch of nutmeg
4 strips of lemon peel
6 fl. oz. water
7 sticks of cinnamon
3 whole cloves
12 fl. oz.of honey
1 1/4 pt. of vodka
In a large saucepan, combine the vanilla bean, nutmeg, lemon peel, cinnamon, cloves and water. Bring to a boil and stir in the honey. Bring back to boil, cover and simmer for 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in the vodka. Krupnikas can be served hot or cooled and bottled to enjoy later.
While it’s great served straight from the bottle, I plan to try stirring some into my eggnog. Maybe into some hot cider. With a healthy dose of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, krupnikas is tailor-made for Christmas cheer.