One of the many benefits of living in Greenpoint is the variety of delicious Polish vodkas and liqueurs available at most liquor stores. As everyone knows, vodka’s origins can be traced back to Poland (go ahead, look it up), and it’s nice to see that the strong tradition of soul-warming spirits continues here.

All this Greenpointers talk of hot toddies reminded me of one of my favorite ways to warm up during freezing Polish winters – krupnik na gorąco (KROOP-neek na go-RON-tso, or hot krupnik).

Krupnik is a traditional Polish drink that can be found in several formats: honey; lemon; and plain vodka. For this recipe, it is important to use the honey-hued old krupnik, which is clearly labeled “Polish Honey Liqueur” on the bottle.

The recipe for krupnik na gorąco varies from place to place, but the basic one involves krupnik , hot water, cinnamon, and a slice of orange.


-1 shot old krupnik (be sure to buy the honey-hued old krupnik that says Polish honey vodka, NOT the cloudy, lemon-flavored krupnik cytrynowa or plain krupnik vodka)
-2 shots hot water
-1 slice orange
-dusting of ground cinnamon

Pour the ingredients into a mug, mix, and serve.

There are plenty of ways to modify the recipe to your liking. Some places keep it simple and serve krupnik with hot water, which would do in a pinch but is not recommended. If the drink is somehow still too bitter for your taste, mix in a dollop of honey to sweeten things up. Cloves, cinnamon sticks, and other wintry spices can also be added.

Try things out and see what works for you. At about $12.99 a bottle, it’s not too costly to experiment. If you find any winning combinations, feel free to share them in the comments section.

If you’d rather not mess with a perfectly tasty liqueur, old krupnik served neat makes an excellent digestif.

Another popular hot beverage Poles enjoy in the colder months is grzane piwo (GZHA-neh PEE-vo, or hot beer). It’s not as bad as it sounds – throw in a few spices and a bit of ginger syrup, and it somehow comes together. Watch this space for some tasty grzane piwo recipes.

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