Krupnik is a very old Polish Nalewka (vodka infusion or tincture) that was very popular in the Dzikie Pola (wild steppes) and Kresy (outskirts) areas of the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth. Before the days of refined sugar honey was the most common sweetener - my recipe gives this traditional honey liqueur some Nahuatl heat.
I have a very productive, 3 year old now, bush of lantern peppers from the Habanero (capsicum chinense) family growing in my yard. I\\\'ve used the peppers for a hot Nalewka before but this time I wanted a sweet liqueur style Nalewka.
To start off you will need to make a basic hot vodka infusion not unlike the Serrano Sun recipy. You can use different hot peppers like the serranos, or jalapenos, or scotch bonnets, or whatever. Please remember that you are not trying to make pepper spray. Moderate the heat because too much methyl vanillyl nonenamide (capsaicin) in your alcohol will make your Nalewka more of a weapon than a beverage.
I used 5 lantern peppers in 1 liter (4.2 cups) of Baczewski vodka. I put the peppers whole in a mason jar and poured in the vodka, closed tightly, gave it a shake and put it in a sunny place for about 2 weeks. I gave the jar a shake every now and than. After 2 weeks I had a very drinkable, pleasant, hot, peppery vodka. Not unlike the Serrano Sun but with a subtly distinct flavor and completely colorless. I bet it would mature well.
Now that we have the hot we have to make the Krupnik. You will need:
Put all the ingredients in a heavy pot and slowly bring to a boil stirring all the time. If you want a clearer Nalewka you can descum the mixture by removing as much of the foam, that builds up, as you can with a spoon. Boil for about 5 minutes. If you want to get more flavor from the spices let the honey sit for a few hours or even overnight. You will have to bring the mixture to a boil again before you can mix it with our vodka.
Let the honey and spices cool a little so it is not boiling and pour the hot mixture into the Nalewka through a sieve lined with cheese cloth. We want to catch all the spices.
Back in the old days Krupnik was often served hot on cold winter evenings but I think this already capsicum heated version tastes better cold. Let the Nalewka cool, filter it again if you want and bottle. It\\\'s good to drink right away but gets much better with age.
I tried it after 3 weeks and it was amazingly satisfying - like drinking hot peppers with a smooth, spiced honey chaser. I was going to name it Hot Honey and give it a Vargas style drawing but you don\\\'t want to have any children around when you Google that name.
So when does a Nalewka stop being just a liquor and starts being a liqueur? It's all in the sugar, but, the funny thing is nobody can give an exact point of transition. To some people most traditional Nalewki are liqueurs because they often have some sugar. Well I think this Nalewka made the full journey from liquor to liqueur and became a cordial.
In days of old when knights were bold... they drank beer and wine made from fruit and grain 'cause the water made you sick and hard liquor was not invented. Usually the stuff was weak. No more than 14% alkohol - you can't get more with natural fermentation. Along came the Arab alchemists and the alembic still and the world got drunk on the possibilities.
These are two very basic Nalewkas (pronounced - nah-lef-kahs) to make. Serano Sun is a variation on the ever popular pepper vodka - pieprzówka. Blue Flower Gin is a compound gin, not a distillate like the stuff you get in the store, made with juniper berries, of course, and bergamot leaves and flowers.