I love to keep traditions alive. It is even better when I can incorporate them into our family meals and parties. Boilo is a delicious alcoholic beverage that will warm your nights and keep a coal mining tradition of Lithuanian immigrants alive. Keep those coffee mugs ready, I store this in my fridge by the gallon. Individual servings can quickly be brought to a simmer on the stove or heated up in your microwave.
What is Boilo?
Boilo is one of those fabulous recipes that are passed down from generations to generation. A closely guarded secret that your family treasures like all the boilo-makers before them. It is made most often during the Christmas holidays. Here is a great article on the origins of Boilo. My take kicks up the recipe even more by adding the alcohol to the cooled punch to preserve all its potency.
The History of Boilo
The amazing punch was made by Coal Miners in Pennsylvania around the holidays. This coal region moonshine was recently featured on a local Northeastern Pennsylvania news magazine, WNEP Home & Backyard, which you can view here. This Bolio is very similar to my Apple Pie Moon Shine. You just have the addition of whiskey, honey mixture more fruit like raisins, and spices like cloves, anise, and allspice berries.
How to Make Boilo – Step by Step
- Step One: Cut apples, lemons, oranges, or any other citrus fruits (Photo 1 below)
- Step Two: Add the Apple Cider into the slow cooker. (Photo 2 below)
- Step Three: Pour in the Cranberry Juice, you can also squeeze some orange juice into the liquid mixture. (Photo 3 below)
- Step Four: Place the sliced fruits and the cranberries and the remaining fruit pulp into the slow cooker. (Photo 4 below)
- Step Five: Add your Honey to the crock pot. (Photo 5 below)
- Step Six: Place a teaspoon or more of mulling spices into the pot. (Photo 6 below)
- Step Seven: Grind fresh nutmeg or whole cloves into your punch. You can add a cup raisins here. (Photo 7 below)
- Step Eight: .Finish off with the cinnamon sticks on top (Photo 8 below)
- Step Nine: Cook mixture for 4 hours keep at a slow simmer making sure not to boil. Allow to cool. Mash the mixture through a strainer. (Photo 9 below)
- Step Ten: Add the Everclear or other grain alcohol. You can also use ginger ale for a lighter drink. (Photo 10 below)
- Step Eleven: Pour in the Four Queens Whiskey, Krupnikas, or other whiskey of your choice. Stir and it is ready to serve. This drink will bring you right back to Lithuania, or Poland whose brave people brought this recipe with them to remind them of their home country. (Photo 11 below)
What Kind of Alcohol is Used to Make Boilo?
Like all homemade traditional drinks, there are a few constants in how it is constructed. In the Northeastern Pennsylvania region it is a custom to use Four Queens whiskey. Sales spike around the holiday time for this unique brand but you can use any kind of whiskey that you have on hand. This drink is not for the faint of heart, as it also includes grain alcohol. I use Everclear.
How the Coal Miners Used Boilo
The coal miners used the Boilo for everything from staving off the common cold to giving as gifts around the holidays. Mining was a tough job, so finishing off a tough day with this unique drink was always a pleasurable way to end the day. A whole cottage industry has sprung up around this drink popular to the Schuylkill County. You can find some great accessories at Mud and Maker.
Expert Tips for Making the Best Boilo
Boilo is unique to the maker. However, here are some variations that you can try to make this recipe different.
- Try not using Alcohol: If you are having an all ages get together you can make this toddy without the alcohol.
- This Recipe Can be Doubled: This is a great recipe for a crowd. Simply increase the ingredients proportionately and you can present a mason jar for your guests to take with them.
- Prepare with Different Fruits or Juices: Feel free to change up the fruits for a different taste. Blueberries would be great.
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- 4 Granny Smith apples, sliced
- 4 oranges, sliced
- 4 lemons, sliced
- 12 ounces fresh cranberries
- 8 cinnamon sticks
- 1/2 cup mulling spices
- 1/2 cup honey
- 32 ounces cranberry juice
- 32 ounces apple cider
- 750 ml whiskey, traditionally Four Queens Whiskey is used
- 750 ml grain alcohol, such as Everclear
- Place fruit, spices, honey, apple cider and cranberry juice into a large slow cooker.
- You may need to use two slow cookers to get everything to fit – if so, evenly split all of the ingredients between the two slow cookers.
- Cook on high for four hours or until fruit is broken down.
- Strain fruit and mulling spices from the mixture.
- Cool to room temperature.
- Add whiskey and grain alcohol once mixture is completely cooled.
- Transfer Boilo to mason jars with tight fitting lids and store in a cool, dry place.
- Boilo can be served warm or cold, depending on your preference.
This Recipe Can be Doubled: This is a great recipe for a crowd. Simply increase the ingredients proportionately and you can present a mason jar for your guests to take with them.
Try Different Fruits or Juices: Feel free to change up the fruits for a different taste. Blueberries would be great. *PLEASE ENJOY RESPONSIBLY