Apple Boilo {Coal Country Cocktail}

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5 from 14 votes
Boilo is a wonder alcoholic drink that 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.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 4 hours
Cooling: 1 hour
Total: 4 hours 10 minutes
Apple Boilo with a sprig of cranberries.

Apple Boilo is a wonder alcoholic drink that 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.

Apple Boilo with a sprig of cranberries.

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 coal region. You can find some great accessories at Mud and Maker.

Holidays are made for fabulous recipes, like these.


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What We Love About This Recipe

Boilo is a delicious alcoholic beverage that will warm your nights and keep a coal mining tradition of Poland and Lithuanian immigrants alive. Individual servings can quickly be brought to a simmer on the stove or heated up in your microwave. Here is a great article on the origins of Boilo.

  • Easy Slow Cooker Prep: Throw the ingredients into the slow cooker and then smell that fills the house is truly heavenly.
  • Easy Ingredients: All found in pantry or fridge.
  • Family Friendly: Great for large family gatherings or christmas parties.
  • Adaptable: Different citrus fruits and whiskeys can make this drink your own personal version.
  • Makes Great Gifts: Share this warm spirit with your family and friends.
Seasonings in the boilo.

Ingredient Notes for Boilo

  • Granny Smith apples, sliced
  • Oranges, sliced
  • Lemons, sliced
  • Fresh Cranberries, 12 ounces, frozen whole berries can also work.
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Mulling spices: You can make your own or you can purchase the spices such as whole cloves, anise, nutmeg etc.
  • Honey
  • Cranberry juice
  • Apple cider
  • 750 ml whiskey, traditionally Four Queens Whiskey
  • 750 ml grain alcohol, such as Everclear

Equipment Needed

How to Make Apple Boilo {Coal Country Cocktail}

These are the basic steps for making boilo recipe. Please refer to the recipe card below for more detailed instructions.

Preparing the apples for the boilo.

STEP 1: IN CROCK POT

Place fruit, spices, honey, apple cider and cranberry juice into a large slow cooker. Then cook on high for four hours or until fruit is broken down and next strain remaining fruit pulp and mulling spices from the mixture. Cool to room temperature.

STEP 2: ADD ALCOHOL

Next, add whiskey and grain alcohol to the remaining ingredients once mixture is cool. Finally, transfer Boilo to mason jars with tight fitting lids and store in a cool, dry place.

STEP 3: SERVE

Boilo can be served warm or cold, depending on your preference.

Adding the rest of the ingredients to the drink.

Prep and Storage Tips

HOW TO MAKE THIS RECIPE AHEAD OF TIME

This recipe stays well due to all the alcohol. It can be made ahead of time a serve it throughout the holidays.

HOW TO STORE THIS RECIPE

This boilo is shelf stable for up to six months or longer in the fridge. Store in airtight containers or jars.

HOW TO SERVE THE BOILO

You can serve it cold, however the favorite way to serve this traditional drink is warm in a coffee mug.

HOW TO REHEAT THIS RECIPE

Warm in the microwave for a few seconds and serve in shot glasses or mugs.

Frequently Asked Questions

CAN I MAKE BOILO WITH DIFFERENT WHISKY?

Of course, 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 or try krupnikas .

CAN I SUBSTITUTE DIFFERENT FRUIT?

Indeed this recipe is flexile, use some limes, raisins, or berries to the honey mixture.

CAN THIS RECIPE BE DOUBLED OR HALVED?

Yes, make a gallon or a pint depending on what you need, however, you may need to make several batches in the crock pot or use more than one when you are making the apple boilo.

Three glasses of the apple boilo.

Expert Tips for Making This Recipe

  • Make Milder: Try adding ginger ale or fruit juice like orange juice to the drink.
  • Garnish: Garnish with candied fruit peels, fruit slices or spices.
  • Alternate ingredient: Caraway seeds or allspice berries can add a nice flavor.
  • Alternate cooking method tip: Boil the fruit mash on the stove top in a large stock pot and reduce to a slow simmer. Then squeeze out the fruit and stir in the alcohol to the liquid per the recipe card instructions below.

What to Serve with Apple Boilo {Coal Country Cocktail}

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Apple Boilo with a sprig of cranberries.
5 from 14 votes

Apple Boilo

Yield: 6 quarts
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 4 hours
Cooling: 1 hour
Total: 4 hours 10 minutes
Boilo is a wonder alcoholic drink that 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.
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Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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.

Expert Tips

  • Make Milder: Try adding ginger ale or fruit juice like orange juice to the drink.
  • Garnish: Garnish with candied fruit peels, fruit slices or spices.
  • Variation tip: Feel free to add as many tips as you need in this section
  • Alternate ingredient: Caraway seeds or allspice berries can add a nice flavor.
  • Alternate cooking method tip: Boil the fruit mash on the stove top in a large stock pot and reduce to a slow simmer. Then squeeze out the fruit and stir in the alcohol to the liquid per the recipe card instructions below.
*PLEASE ENJOY RESPONSIBLY

Estimated Nutritional Information

Calories: 988kcal | Carbohydrates: 103g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 1g | Sodium: 15mg | Potassium: 739mg | Fiber: 12g | Sugar: 81g | Vitamin A: 395IU | Vitamin C: 113.5mg | Calcium: 138mg | Iron: 1.9mg
The nutritional information provided are estimates. To learn more about how I calculate this information go to www.itisakeeper.com/about-its-a-keeper/privacy-disclosure-policies/
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Course: Beverages and Cocktails
Cuisine: American
Keyword: boilo, coal miner cocktail, whiskey cocktail

This recipe is my personal adaption of an ethnic inspired recipe. It is not intended to be an authentic recipe.  I’ve recreated this recipe because I enjoy the flavors and I want to encourage my readers to expand their tastes and try new flavor combinations. The recipe, ingredients and processes may have been adapted to make the recipe accessible for the average American. I have provided links to authentic versions of the recipe in the post above. I encourage you to visit these pages and learn more about the traditional version(s) of this recipe.

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7 thoughts on “Apple Boilo {Coal Country Cocktail}”

  1. 5 stars
    I’ve made this recipe and one with different fruit in it. Turned out really good except it got thick both times after it cooled. Not sure what I’m doing wrong. I did strain it before adding the alcohol. Any input would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

    Reply
    • I’m not sure why it would get thick for you. I’ve made it a number of times and it’s never gotten thick.

      Reply
  2. If I could, I would say that I grew up on boilo, but I grew up around it! Always had an uncle or two that made it and it was a (Russian) Christmas staple. And weddings! The bridal dance always ends with a shot of boilo!

    Reply
  3. 5 stars
    I’ve never heard of it, but I love the backstory on this beverage! My husband is from the Pittsburgh area, so I’ll have to ask him about it.

    Reply
  4. 5 stars
    This would be the perfect drink for winter parties and gatherings. It’s so easy and bet the house will smell great!

    Reply

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