My husband Matthew and I are each half Polish and grew up eating lots of stuffed cabbage and pierogis for sure. My great grandparents came over from Poland as did Matt’s grandparents. He is only one generation removed from the old country food and traditions and grew up with them. His dad and mom shared them over the years with Matt and his four siblings. Whereas my mom and grandmother simply cooked the food, Matt’s family was following the traditional Polish Christmas Eve Wigilia and getting baskets blessed at Church during Easter.
Even though today we don’t always practice the traditions, I do make many of the foods associated with these holidays. Right now, my fridge is full of 3 types of pierogis, white borscht and sauerkraut and kielbasa ready for Easter Sunday. Cooking and enjoying these foods always bring us back to big family holidays when parents and grandparents were still with us.
One Polish holiday beverage we had never heard of was Polish Fire Water. About thirty years ago, a few days before Easter, Matt had a client offer some of their homemade brew to him while he was at their home. Needless to say, the Polish Fire Water (or Krupnik in Polish), has become a mainstay for us each Easter.
Basically, Krupnik is a delicious mixture of vodka with honey and various herbs and spices. Thought to be first made by monks, it originated in the area that is now Belarus in the 1600s which was then part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. It is a distant cousin of mead and depending on the area of Poland there are numerous variations. And, although it is commercially made, in my opinion the best Krupnik is easily made at homemade.
Polish Fire Water can be served hot, cold or room temperature. It is served often at Christmas. However, a holiday like Easter as a perfect time to enjoy this yummy treat. It’s too good to only drink it one time each year. I think that is why Matt’s clients had it on the table during Easter time thirty years ago! It has become a tradition in our home, and I hope maybe a new one in yours! Nostrovia!
Polish Fire Water... aka Krupnik
This recipe is easily double or tripled. Also, depending on your taste, feel free to add more or less honey. I'm not one who likes things super sweet. This recipe is not as sweet as the commercial varieties you will find in your local liquor store.
Make a big batch and give a gifts. It also will last in your cabinet, so no need to worry if you have extra. We have enjoyed Krupnik that was made three years prior.
This can be served hot, cold or room temp.
5 cups Polish Vodka
2 1/2 cups water
4 cinnamon sticks
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
6 whole cloves
1 1/2 - 2 cups honey
1 vanilla bean - split and scraped
Zest lemon and orange. Slice the lemon and the orange into 1/2" slices.
Add all ingredients including zest and citrus to a pot
Stir to combine
Place on stove top and bring to boil and then down to a very low simmer for one hour
After one hour turn off heat and allow to cool to room temperature
Once a room temp strain thru a fine mesh strainer. Press down on contents to extract all flavoring and liquid
Pour the liquid into bottle (s)