What We Want / Krupnik

Learn about this treasured golden cordial of Polish origin and get a recipe to make your own



Rachel Wright, beverage director and bar manager at Més Que, developed a homemade recipe for Krupnik.

Photos by kc kratt; illustration by Nicholas Jackson

 

Virtually unknown around the rest of the country, krupnik is a treasured liqueur in Buffalo, particularly among the Polish community and Dyngus Day revelers the day after Easter. The golden cordial (not to be confused with Krupnik vodka, a clear spirit popular in Poland) is flavored with honey and spices, with an almost cloying sweetness and syrupy texture. While some savor it on the rocks, it is often downed as a shot.  Watch our video below featuring Rachel Wright, beverage director and bar manager at Més Que, to see how to make your own Krupnik!

 

 

Details on krupnik’s history are scant, although it is thought to trace its roots back to seventeenth century Poland. The name comes from that of an old Lithuanian alcohol beverage “krupnikos.” Marie Brizard Wine & Spirits (formerly Belvédère) produces Krupnik Old Honey Liqueur, the most commonly found brand on liquor store shelves in Buffalo. The company says it flavors its krupnik with more than fifty herbs and spices, including clove, cinnamon, and ginger. 

 

Krupnik’s distribution is heavily correlated to Polish populations. “Looking at the entire country, the big pockets of the Polish community, Chicago and Buffalo, are our two biggest markets,” says Jim Cianfrocca, upstate district manager for Marie Brizard. His colleague, Mark Dean, a senior brand manager, also mentions Cleveland in third place. “Sales do stay consistent throughout the year,” says Cianfrocca, “but the big bumps would be around Dyngus Day and then the holidays as well,” with the company moving a few thousand cases of the stuff in upstate New York every year.    

 

In 2016, there was a shortage of the sweet liqueur, with many bars and liquor stores running dry before Dyngus Day. Dean euphemistically attributes this to a redesign of the package, while a late 2015 article in the Spirits Business cites a dispute with a company that licenses the bottle design. Marie Brizard went so far as to claim blackmail, according to the reporting, when there was a request to change the terms of the agreement within a month. A new bottle design came out of the affair, but it missed the critical season.

 

In the event that there is ever another krupnik shortage, or if you would simply like to try your hand at making your own, Rachel Wright of the Hertel Avenue soccer and cocktail bar Mès Que developed a recipe for a homemade version. Instead of a neutral base spirit such as vodka or Everclear, Wright uses gin, which provides an extra layer of herbaceousness. Turmeric ginger tea provides complexity that Old Krupnik lacks, while orange blossom honey and a few drops of orange flower water add citrus and floral elements that plays well against the spice. 

 

 

Nick Guy writes for Wirecutter and Serious Eats, among other publications.

 

Video Credits:

Created by Raniris Mirambeaux, Ayana Holmes and Daniel Zuaro
Buffalo State Media Production

Soundtracks:
BossaBossa, Kevin MacLeod
(incometech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

Meanwhile in Bavaria, Kevin MacLeod
(incometech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

Glee Club Polka, Kevin MacLeod
(incometech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

 

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