Polish Honey-Spiced Vodka (Krupnik) Recipe

Tim Bartel / Flickr / CC By 2.0
  • 30 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins,
  • Cook: 10 mins
  • Yield: 1 quart Krupnik (20 shots)
Ratings (25)

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 (see more about this, below).

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. Perfect for the holidays! And, since it requires no aging, it also makes a wonderful last-minute homemade food gift.

What You'll Need

  • 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 zest (orange)
  • 2 cups vodka (or eau de vie. see below)

How to Make It

  1. In a large saucepan, combine cold water and sugar and heat until it dissolves. Add boiling water, vanilla bean, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon stick, peppercorns, and allspice. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.
  2. Strain the simple syrup you've just created through cheesecloth or a coffee filter and return to the saucepan. Add the honey and zest, and heat, stirring, until the honey has completely dissolved. Bring to a boil and immediately remove from heat.
  1. Gradually stir in vodka. Serve hot. If serving, cold, let honeyed vodka come to room temperature, transfer to a lidded jar and refrigerate, covered, until chilled and ready to serve. Store any leftovers at room temperature.

So Just What Is Eau de Vie?

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.

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.