by Tom Mansell, Science Editor

Nothing scientific about today's post. After all, there's really nothing scientific about a recipe… unless it involves careful record keeping and experimentation, which it almost never does. 

Anyway, if your family is anything like mine, Christmas is only the beginning of a slew of holiday parties culminating on New Year's Eve. So if you're hosting or attending a holiday party, allow me to suggest a hot drink to serve (in small amounts) to friends and family. Since Lenn and I are both of Lithuanian heritage, I thought I should post this Eastern European treat, which evolved from the honey liqueur known as Krupnikas, and is standard issue around Christmastime here in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, my home base.


BOILO  (aka Champagne of the Schuylkill County Coal Region)

2 cups water

0.9 oz caraway seeds

2 cinnamon sticks

Boil these together at least 15 minutes.  Meanwhile…

6 oz (one half-can) frozen orange juice concentrate

12 oz water (2 half-cans, regular OJ will do in a pinch, just reduce the water you add later by 6 oz.)

25.4 oz (750mL) ginger ale

1 lb honey

750 mL (~a fifth) grain alcohol

750 mL water

Add the caraway/cinnamon mixture, cover and boil 5 minutes, and strain to remove caraway seeds & cinnamon.  Serve hot in small portions, 'cause this is strong stuff.

IMAG0029This is the traditional recipe.  I like to add a bit of ground ginger for a little extra burn.

CAUTION: Try not to remove the lid during the boiling phase, especially if you're working with a gas stove!  The ethanol will condense on the lid and drip down, leading to some flames. My grandfather set the cupboards on fire this way once.

I realize that you can't legally purchase grain alcohol in New York state, so let me suggest Devil's Springs Double Strength Vodka (160 proof), which is available in NY. Instead of a fifth of grain and a fifth of water, go with about 4 cups of Devil's Springs and 2 3/8 cups of water to get you to the right ethanol concentration (nigh about 20% ABV, by the way). If you're really stuck, regular vodka will work if you replace all the water in the recipe (including the OJ resuspension) with vodka. It takes about a handle.

If anybody actually makes this, send me an email and let me know how it turns out.  If you drink enough of this, you'll have a VERY happy holiday. 

Cheers, everyone!