Not to confused with the barley soup that uses the same name, krupnik was (and still is) a popular alcoholic drink prepared in homes throughout Poland and Lithuania from the time of the Middle Ages. Vodka began to appear in Poland in the 16th century and commonly available by the 1800s. Sugar, however was a more rare commodity - too expensive to be used as a sweetener- people reached for the more readily available honey that often came from their own beehives to make their liqueurs.
Krupnik is made from easily available ingredients but there are as many recipes for krupnik as there are individuals who like to make their own spirits. Some may have an old family recipe or preferences for a particular spice or ingredient such as cardamom or anise or seek a more intense ginger flavor.
The two mandatory ingredients to make krupnik are (1) vodka which comes in a range of proofs such as 80 or 100 or the very potent spirytus at 192 proof; and (2) honey. The type of honey (buckwheat, wild flower, orange blossom, linden flower, etc.) will make a difference in shaping the color, taste and final aroma of the drink so that, too, is personal preference.
The beautiful amber color, the final sweet and aromatic aroma with hints of cinnamon, ginger and cloves is worth making in autumn or winter or for the Easter holidays. It can be served in small glasses at room temperature or, for those cold nights, heated in a pot over low heat and served in tiny cups.
It also goes great with chocolate!
Woodcut of beehive from 16th c. Polish text.
Here is a recipe from Polish Country Kitchen Cookbook p.201 Smacznego! (May it be tasty!)
One of the biggest moments in my life was being able to sign for my very own library card. When I'm not reading, researching and writing I'm riding my bike, sewing or gardening. I love flea markets, folk art, and traveling to Poland.