Polish Honey-Spiced Vodka (Krupnik)

Krupnik bottles on a table
Tim Bartel / Flickr / CC By 2.0
  • Total: 30 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins
  • Cook: 10 mins
  • Yield: 1.8 quarts (38 servings)
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
227 Calories
1g Fat
46g Carbs
1g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1.8 quarts (38 servings)
Amount per serving
Calories 227
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 1g 1%
Saturated Fat 0g 1%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 8mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 46g 17%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Protein 1g
Calcium 57mg 4%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Honey-spiced vodka or krupnik (KRROOP-neek) is a favorite alcoholic beverage among Poles. And, since it's steeped in aromatic spices, less than top-shelf vodka will do just fine in this recipe.

This potent concoction is made from a simple syrup infused with spices that can include cinnamon, allspice, peppercorns, and aniseed. The cooled simple syrup is then reheated with honey and vodka or eau de vie.

It can be served hot, at room temperature, or chilled. Krupnik is the only alcoholic beverage served at the solemn wigilia or Christmas Eve dinner. No matter what temperature it's served at, krupnik warms the body from the inside out. It is perfect for the holidays. And, since it requires no aging, it also makes a wonderful last-minute homemade food gift. You can easily make a batch in the morning or early afternoon to take to an evening gathering.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons water (cold)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 cups water (boiling)
  • 1/4 vanilla bean (split)
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 stick cinnamon (cracked in half)
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 20 allspice berries
  • 1 1/3 cups honey
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest 
  • 2 cups vodka (or eau de vie. see below)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. In a large saucepan, combine 2 tablespoons cold water and the sugar and heat until it dissolves.

  3. Add boiling water, vanilla bean, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon stick, peppercorns, and allspice. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes.

  4. Strain the simple syrup you've just created through cheesecloth or a coffee filter and return to the saucepan.

  5. Add the honey and orange zest. Heat the syrup, stirring, until the honey has completely dissolved. Bring to a boil and immediately remove from heat.

  6. Gradually stir in the vodka.

  7. You can serve the krupnik hot immediately after making it. Or, you can allow it to cool and serve it cold.

Tips

  • If you are serving the krupnik cold, let the honeyed vodka come to room temperature, transfer it to a lidded jar. Refrigerate it, covered, until it is chilled and ready to serve. Once it is prepared and cooled, it can be stored at room temperature. You can transfer it to a decorative bottle.
  • Don't Confuse the Drink with the Soup. Krupnik the drink is not to be confused with Polish barley soup also known as krupnik, one of the most popular soups in the cuisine. It is made in seemingly unlimited varieties. Jewish versions are often vegetarian while others are based on beef or chicken stock and include bacon or spare ribs for added flavor. The common denominator is the use of barley or buckwheat groats, but the vegetables can range from cabbage to celeriac to leeks.
  • Eau de vie is alternative to vodka for making krupnik. Eau de vie is French for "water of life" and refers to any colorless, strong brandy distilled from fermented fruit. Kirsch, made from cherries, and framboise, made from raspberries, are just two varieties. You might see these brandies using the Latin word aqua vitae.